Posted on 30 April, 2015

Mwanza-based cardiologist Antke Zuchner has been scheduling clinics for 5-10 patients per day to utilise Open Heart International presence, to get a second opinion from cardiologist and team leader Andrew Bullock.


But as often happens when the team visits, word-of-mouth means that many more patients turn up in the hope of being seen by the Australian team.

German national Antke has worked in Mwanza for five years now, employed by The Carol Singer, a Catholic children’s mission which raises money by a once a year carol singing event in which more than 500,000 singers take to the streets to collect donations, which fund missions such as Antke’s, worldwide.

Antke’s work at the hospital has focused on developing the paediatric cardiology capability at Bugando Medical Centre, which is a Catholic hospital servicing the entire lake region of Tanzania.

Patients travel up to 24 hours by bus to access the services at the Bugando Medical Centre, one of only four tertiary medical centres in Tanzania.

Those services do not include cardiac surgery capability, which means that unless teams such as OHI visit, patients needing surgery have to be sent to India at great expense to the Ministry of Health. Or take advantage of a program run by Antke in conjunction with Save a Child’s Heart and A Tel Aviv hospital, where patients are screened by visiting doctors in Tanzania and then flown to Israel for surgery.

Sadly, these programs can help only provide for a tiny fraction of those who need surgery to survive and live healthy lives, and many children die at a young age from conditions which are otherwise easily correctable by surgery.

This is why Antke’s work is so important, and it has been through her passion, drive and commitment to this cause that has been at the heart of our project’s primary objective which is in supporting Dr Godwin Sharau and his team at Bugando Medical Centre in gaining the experience they need to develop a paediatric cardiac surgery program in Tanzania.

Antke’s indefatigable commitment to helping Tanzanians access the cardiac surgery they need has included doing much of the organisation for the trip, screening potential patients and trouble-shooting the many logistical challenges to a project of this nature.


Tags:  East Africa,