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Heart-to-heart: Apollo to open hospital in Tanzania

Friday May 27, 2011 10:38:47 PM, Manish Chand, IANS

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Dar es Salaam: It's a heart-to-heart affair. With more Tanzanians suffering from a variety of heart ailments and travelling abroad for treatment, India's Apollo Hospitals Friday struck a pact to set up a 300-bed super-specialty hospital in this coastal metropolis of East Africa's largest country.


Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Limited, in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, signed a preliminary joint venture agreement with the Board of Trustees of Tanzania's National Social Security Fund and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for setting up the hospital.

"We are excited about our new venture in Tanzania. It should be of great help to people here," C. Prathap Reddy, chairman of Apollo Hospitals, told IANS.

Initially, one hospital will be set up in Dar es Salaam, with a plan for Apollo Hospitals to send their doctors to train medical personnel in this country of 42 million people. The hospital will be completed in 18 months, said Reddy.

The agreement evoked an enthusiastic response from the Tanzanian president, who made a pitch to Apollo for opening five more hospitals in the country's other cities.

"We do not have the capacity to treat heart diseases, open heart surgery, cancer, kidney problems and neurosurgery. Many people have to travel abroad for treatment. With a hospital here, it will be much more affordable," Kikwete said at a joint press conference with Manmohan Singh.

"Right now, Tanzanians spend $70-80 million for treatment abroad. Now, they do not have to go out," Kikwete said when asked what benefits this agreement will bring to Tanzanians.

Thousands of Tanzanians travel to India for low-cost treatment every year and the number is increasing. "If anyone is going to India, one thinks he is going there for some serious health problem," said Bilham, a Tanzanian journalist.

Giving a new twist to the much-touted competition between India and China in Africa, Kikwete said the Chinese have built a hospital here where Indian doctors are working and also providing training. "Now, India is building a hospital here. We can send more doctors and nurses for training to India," he said.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Tanzania after malaria, claiming 287 lives a day or 104,755 lives a year, according to the Tanzanian Cardiac Hospital Foundation. "In the whole of Tanzania, there is no successful specialized cardiac treatment facility. Twenty percent of all the deaths here stem from lack of medical facilities and poverty. Those who can afford treatment must travel out of the country," says the foundation.

Tanzanian teenagers are at high risk of suffering from heart diseases, which some experts say now attack those aged between 12 and 19 years.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at




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