Tanzania hits another milestone in bone marrow transplant

Tanzania boldly offers bone marrow transplants with its first-ever Centre in the capital, Dodoma.

According to experts at MNH, the transplant is performed on patients whose stem cells have been damaged or destroyed due to diseases or conditions like sickle cell, leukaemia and some types of cancers.

Benjamin Mkapa Zonal Referral Hospital in Dodoma becomes the second after Muhimbili National Hospital to offer bone marrow transplant services.

Tanzania is one of the notable African countries currently performing bone marrow transplants, including South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Comoros and Nigeria.

The following are the highlights of the milestone according to Daily News:

“The launch of these services at BMH, testifies how the country is making a step ahead  in improving  health services in the country … this is a milestone taking into account that  these services  can be accessed in a few countries  in Africa,”  the PM said at the launching event.

He said that the government decided to invest 2.7bn/- so that the hospital could start providing bone marrow transplant services to reduce treatment costs to citizens.

“The strengthening of specialised and super specialised services in the country has reduced the huge cost which was being incurred by the government in order to enable the needy patients to access the services abroad,” Majaliwa said.

According to the PM, bone marrow transplant at the BMH will cost between 50m/- and 55m/- per patient in comparison to being done outside the country at over 120m/-

Elaborating, he expressed gratitude to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for continuing to disburse funds for the purchase of medical equipment, reagents and medicines and funding the training of health experts at specialised and super-specialised services.

Majaliwa said that providing the services at the hospital will relieve sickle cell patients from pains and recurrent infections while other patients get cured.

Before launching the services, the Premier visited wards under the bone marrow transplant unit and talked to children and parents whose children had undergone the procedure.

They all expressed gratitude to the government for establishing the services that helped improve their kids’ health.

Earlier in her remarks, before inviting the Premier, the Minister for Health, Ummy Mwalimu, said procedures were in top gear to upgrade the BMH to become the second National Hospital after the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH).

According to the minister, statistics show that globally, 300,000 children are born with Sickle Cell Complications every year. In Tanzania, each year, the number stood at 11,000, out of which 6,000 received medical services at the clinic level.

“Children who are borne with sickle cell undergo pain and experience low blood counts. They also miss classes for several months,” she pointed out.

According to the BMH Managing Director, Dr Alphonce Chandika, Tanzania ranks fourth in the world on the sickle cell disease burden and third in the African continent.

According to Dr Chandika, since the inception of Bone Marrow Transplant services to patients suffering from Sickle Cell complications, already three children have been treated, and their health is progressing well.

He said the hospital had already received over 40 patients on the waiting list.

Medical experts say the life expectancy of people suffering from Sickle Cell shows that 50 to 90 per cent die before age five.

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