Marathons set to save children with heart defects

Wednesday December 19 2018

Dr Omary Chillo, President of Tanzania Health

Dr Omary Chillo, President of Tanzania Health Summit speaks during the launching of the Heart Marathon 2019 in Dar es Salaam. 

Syriacus Buguzi
By Syriacus Buguzi
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Dar es Salaam. Runners in the Heart Marathon 2019 competitions are set to win a total of Sh16million but also set a platform for stakeholders to raise funds to save children with heart defects who need surgery at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) in Dar es Salaam.

The President of Tanzania Health Summit (THS), Dr Omary Chillo told reporters in Dar es Salaam that cyclists, youth, children and families in general are expected to take part in the marathons as part of the efforts to control Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Tanzania.

“A number of children with heart defects need surgery, yet, heart diseases are also some of the most troubling ailments in the NCDs group. Physical exercises aim at preventing these diseases,’’ said the THS president.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who exercise regularly are associated with a greatly reduced risk of certain kinds of cancer. Several other studies have come out to how physical exercises can reduce the risk of most Non-Communicable Diseases.

The researchers studied 1.44 million participants over an average of 11 years. They discovered that people who engaged in the highest levels of physical activity were 7 percent less likely to develop any kind of cancer than those who exercised the least.

In Africa, other studies show that heart defects, mostly referred to by experts as congenital heart diseases (CHD) are common causes of diseases and deaths among young children and adolescents living in Africa, and Tanzania is no exception.

JKCI’s Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr Naiz Majani said that children with correctible heart defects in Tanzania often fail to undergo surgery because of lack of financial support.

“During this marathon, it’s our anticipation that stakeholders will  come up in support of these children, most of whom come from poor families,’’ she said during the launching of the Heart Marathon 2019 in Dar es Salaam.

The newly announced Heart Marathon 2019 season, which is set to reach climax in April 2019, has been organized by THS in collaboration with JKCI and Save the Children Tanzania. This is the fourth season in a series. The first Heart Marathon event took place in April 2016.

“Until today, over 3000 people have taken part in the marathons and 1000 people have been sensitized to take part in screening for various Non-Communicable Diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure,’’ said Dr Chillo and added, “Through the marathons, we have also helped raise funds for a child, Mbaruku from Gongo la Mboto in the city who was suffering from a heart defect.”

This season’s marathon competitions are expected begin and end close to Coco Beach in the city and will involve running from 5, 10 up to 21.1 kilometers Children will run 700 meters and cyclists will go up to 21.1 kilometers.