By Rudo Shoko
TREATMENT for chronic diseases such as cancer, kidney failure and heart problems, among other diseases, has become a preserve of the ‘elite’ as the needy and disadvantaged cannot afford the thousands of dollars that health institutions require.
Patients usually seek donations and assistance through the media while in extreme cases those who would have lost hope of getting financial assistance wait upon the day of the Lord to take them.
But So We Care Foundation (SWCF) founder Dr David Kaitano says everyone has a right to medical treatment despite financial constraints.
So We Care Foundation is a Christian, non-governmental organisation that was established in 2005 to cater for the needy and disadvantaged who require medical assistance.
Growing up as an orphan and also having a child who suffered from growth of the head (hydrocephalus), are some of the reasons which inspired Dr David Kaitano to start SWCF.
Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain.
This typically causes increased pressure inside the skull.
Older people may have headaches, double vision, poor balance, urinary incontinence, personality changes or mental impairment.
In babies there may be a rapid increase in head size.
One of the patients who has benefitted from this foundation is Tatendaishe Chimhangwa.
Chimhangwa was born with a hydrocephalus condition (growth at the back of his head).
The life-threatening condition got worse as he grew.
A medical operation had to be undertaken to save his life, but the costs were beyond what the family could afford.
So We Care Foundation, in conjuction with Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals intervened and they facilitated the funding and the operation was successful.
Last week, Kerina Chihumbiri, a cancer patient, was referred to SWCF for assistance.
The mother, Felistus Muziringa, who is unemployed, found it difficult to take care of her child due to financial constraints.
“I have no income to support myself and daughter who has cancer,” said Muziringa.
“The Foundation is in the process of helping Kerina.”
In an interview with Patriot Health, SWCF founder and president, Dr Kaitano said his foundation is complementing government’s efforts by assisting the needy and disadvantaged.
“Those failing to pay medical treatment for critical conditions are sent to SWCF which then caters for funding, having in mind that most patients are failing to obtain medical treatment,” said Dr Kaitano.
The foundation works hand-in-hand with Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, as the latter act as a referral centre for the former.
“Doing operations here in Zimbabwe is much cheaper and an advantage to the medical patients,” said Dr Kaitano.
He said before an operation is done, there are other factors that must first be observed and analysed before going overseas, which can be referred to as medical tourism.
Medical tourism is the process of travelling to a foreign country to obtain treatment.
India is one of the destinations where people go to obtain medical treatment.
India is primarily known for advanced medical technology.
And most Zimbabweans have sought medical attention for heart surgery, bone marrow transplant and cancer therapy in India.
“One of the main concerns for patients travelling overseas for treatment is the follow-up care they need once they return home,” said Dr Kaitano.
“The patient may suffer post-procedure complications or side effects.
“The post-treatment care will then become the responsibility of the medical care system in the patient’s home country.
“The patient may have to travel back overseas if the physician at home is unwilling to provide the care necessary.”
Another risk involved in medical tourism, Dr Kaitano said, emanates from the fact that many foreign laws governing medical liability are not as strict as those in developed countries.
“Chinotanga (The first thing) is acknowledging the God-given resources,” said Dr Kaitano, “trying to encourage each other that we should be proud of what God has given us, that is, the medical doctors we have and take a leap of faith with them, that they can perform these medical procedures.”