Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, senior health reporter
A pediatric cardiac center opened this week at Mpilo Central Hospital for children suffering from heart disease and is headed by a history writer, Zimbabwe’s first female pediatric cardiologist.
Born three months after the country’s independence from colonial rule, she didn’t know she would become Zimbabwe’s first female pediatric cardiologist.
dr. Davidzo Murigo-Shumba and her male counterpart in Harare Dr. Charles Henry Bennerman are the only two pediatric cardiologists in the country.
Pediatric cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating heart problems in children.
dr. Murigo-Shumba once worked as an assistant physician in Mpilo before leaving to continue her studies in South Africa, returning to Zimbabwe a few days before the opening of the Bulawayo Pediatric Heart Center.
Her love for children whose hearts she will care for dates back to the 80s in Bikita, where she grew up.
She attended Victoria High School in Masvingo and attended the University of Zimbabwe where she studied medicine before pursuing her dream of specializing in pediatrics – a branch of medicine that includes the medical care of infants, children and adolescents.
dr. Murigo-Shumba specialized for four years in pediatrics in neighboring South Africa and three years to become a pediatric cardiologist.
She decided to come back home and help hundreds of children who were struggling to access the services locally.
Pediatric cardiologists diagnose, treat, and treat heart problems in children, including congenital heart disease (abnormalities of the heart that children are born with) such as holes between the heart chambers, valve problems, and abnormal blood vessels.
In Zimbabwe, children with congenital heart disease could only receive life-saving treatment in South Africa or India.
It is estimated that the services provided locally were inaccessible because there were no specialists such as Dr. Murigo-Shumba were, minimum USD 10 000 costs, excluding travel and accommodation costs.
A number of affected children have lost their lives seeking the services as charges were beyond the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Only a handful of insured sponsorships to travel to India and South Africa for medical care.
dr. Murigo-Shumba said her love for children motivated her to invest her time and brains into studying cardiology as she is aware that many in Zimbabwe are suffering without local interventions.
She is now back in Zimbabwe to play her part.
She is the second pediatric cardiologist in the country, after Dr. Bannerman in Harare.
dr. Murigo-Shumba is stationed in the newly opened cardiology unit of the pediatric hospital of Mpilo Central Hospital to serve the people of the southern region including Bulawayo, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland, North and South counties.
“My name is Davidzo Murigo-Shumba, a pediatric cardiologist who specializes in caring for children with heart conditions. I’m happy to be back in Mpilo, where a while back I trained as a doctor while doing medicine,” she said.
“I trained at KwaZulu Natal University in Durban, where I specialized in pediatrics for four years and then another three years to become a pediatric cardiologist.”
“I love children and it brings a smile to my face and heart when I take away the pain they are going through. So that’s a passion for me. During my pediatrics training, I came across many other specialties and fell in love with pediatric cardiology,” she said.
“I had this passion and desire to help them because I know they are going through this suffering because non-communicable diseases in Zimbabwe generally don’t get that much attention.”
dr. Murigo-Shumba said she is ready to join forces with other pediatricians in Mpilo and other health professionals to help children with heart conditions.
She also said that heart disease is common and urged communities to take the time and read around them so they can help their children once affected.
“I’m back home and arrived just in time for the opening of the pediatric cardiology department a few days ago and I’m looking forward to trying cardiology with the rest of the team in Mpilo, the rest of the country. to improve health care for our children. . My focus will be to make sure these specialized services are available locally here at Mpilo so we can save lives,” she said.
“This is because some of these heart conditions, if not treated within the first few days of life, can die. Trying to get the diagnosis, seeking money to travel to India may be of no use, which is why we are happy that the ministry insists that we have our own services here in Zimbabwe.
As the first female pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Murigo-Shumba that this was made possible by the support of her parents and the community.
She said the girl can grow up to be anything they want in Zimbabwe because the sky is the limit.
“I had supportive parents who motivated me to think big from the moment I was in Bikita where I come from. I have never looked back since and even now, with my two daughters, I know they can become a great asset in this country as long as I support them. I tell my fellow women and girls that the sky is the limit, let’s dream big and never let it be known that we can’t do it!”
Renowned Bulawayo pediatrician Dr. Wedu Ndebele said the opening of the cardiology unit in Mpilo was a dream come true for the region.
He said he can die happily in the knowledge that children will have access to specialized services in the hospital.
“I’m glad I got to experience this day because for years it hurt us to watch our children go through heart disease, knowing there was nothing we could do on the spot. Now that we have a unit and our own specialist Dr. Murigo-Shumba, can I die now because there is a future for our children. This is something worth celebrating and we are grateful to the Department of Health and Child Care, Brave Little Hearts, an organization that has lobbied for this unit and all our stakeholders who continue to support us in saving lives,” said Dr. Ndebele.
According to the latest World Health Organization data published in 2018, the number of coronary heart disease deaths in Zimbabwe was 5,896 or 4.96 percent of the total deaths.
In children, congenital heart disease becomes fatal due to late diagnosis and lack of necessary interventions.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Heart Day, which is celebrated annually on September 29 with calls for concerted efforts to end heart-related diseases whose prevalence is increasing. — @thamamoe