Home' Christchurch Mail : June 6th 2013 Contents 19
CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, JUNE 6, 2013
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SNORGUARDS AND MOUTHGUARDS
BIG HEART: Zambian expat doctor Munanga Mwandila is helping people with heart conditions in Africa.
By ELI MWIJUMBA
A CANTERBURY-based project started by a
Zambian expat doctor is saving lives in Africa.
The Mutima Project organises medical volun-
teers to travel to Zambia to perform life-saving
Zambia has no heart service or surgeon for its
14 million citizens, resulting in more than 400
people dying of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) a
The World Health Organisation said RHD was
the most common killer of young adults in Zam-
bia, accounting for about 60 per cent of cardiac
This prompted Zambian expat Dr Munanga
Mwandila to form the charitable trust with
several colleagues in 2009.
Dr Mwandila, who works at Ashburton Hospi-
tal, said his inspiration for the project started
when he was a junior doctor in Zambia, as he
helplessly watched a young mother die from RHD.
It was a really painful experience because I
knew even then that if she had the simple opera-
tion, she would ve been living a normal life and be
a mother to her two children.
Many Zambians cannot afford to have heart
surgery abroad as the cost of US$25,000
(NZ$29,000) is too great; more than 60 per cent of
Zambians live in poverty.
In many cases, when you have a heart condi-
tion in Zambia, you have to start preparing for
your funeral, Auckland City Hospital intensive
care nurse Grace Muyoma, a member of the pro-
ject and a Zambian expat, said.
The long-term goal of the Mutima Project was to
help the Zambian government establish a
cardiothoracic unit through their annual visits
over five years, Dr Mwandila said.
So far, there has been one trip to Zambia, a
three-week visit in March 2011, with a team of 30.
Seven successful heart operations were completed
at the University Teaching Hospital in the capital
Theatre nurse at Auckland City Hospital Helen
Sargent said the most satisfying thing about the
first mission was the outcome of the surgeries for
All seven of them had fantastic results.
Dr Mwandila said they did not manage the
second annual mission in 2012, because they could
not raise enough funds.
But a second trip is planned for later this year,
with the hope of more completed surgeries than on
the first trip.
Mrs Muyoma said she was touched by New Zea-
land s involvement in the Mutima Project.
The Kiwi staff left their lives, families, and jobs
to go to the other end of the world to save lives.
As someone who has had the privilege and
opportunity to come abroad, I almost feel obliged
to give back what I can to my country, Dr
Eli Mwijumba is a third-year journalism student at
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