Parents have been advised to be on the lookout for early signs of heart related disease in their children.
That was the key message during the annual Mater HeartRun, an initiative that seeks to raise funds for assisting children from families who cannot afford cost of cardiac surgery.
Thousands of Kenyans turned up for the charity event, held simultaneously in nine towns — Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Mumias, Machakos, Nakuru, Meru and Eldoret.
The project which targets to raise Sh200 million attracted 40,000 participants. From the monies raised, the initiative hopes to have 400 heart surgeries.
The Mater Heart Run team is hopeful that this year, they will achieve their targets.
“The annual Mater Heart Run is the main fund raising event for the Mater Cardiac Programme. In 2016, the Run raised a total of Sh88,549,739, which enabled us to do 78 heartsurgeries and 19 cardiac catheterisation procedures on children from economically disadvantaged background,” said Dr Kennedy Manyonyi, the acting chief executive officer for Mater Misericordiae Hospital.
Emily Wambugu, a senior nurse at Mater hospital intensive care unit says early detection and diagnosis for symptoms of cardiac diseases is key to successive treatment.
The medic noted that abnormal growth, common cold and respiratory tract infections, were some of the early symptom that parents should be on lookout for in their young one as they can be indicator for heart conditions.
“Most heart ailments can be rectified especially if detected at birth, as opposed to when the child and conditions are at advanced age and stages,” she explained. To treat a single heart condition, she said between Sh700,000 to Sh1 million was required.
She said last year the initiative raised over Sh3 million from individual and corporate organisations.
The nurse said since the run started in Nyeri in 2016, the number of institution and school taking part in the run had raised from 19 to over 60.
The funds raised from the Mater Heart Run initiative are a drop in the ocean given the disease burden.
A total of 8,000 children are born with rheumatic heartdiseases annually in Kenya according to the Mater Hospital Director of Medical Services Dr Victor Ng’ani.
Dr Ng’ani while addressing the press at Mumias Sugar Sports Complex during this year’s 16th edition of the Mater Heart Run, said most of the heart diseases can be treated if they are detected early.
He said one out of five children born with heart diseases die before reaching their fifth birthday.
Booker Academy principal John Mark Wandera said a total of Sh2.73million was collected from the run in Mumias Mater Heart Run.
The Mater Cardiac Programme was started in 1995 to identify and treat children with heart ailments, especially those from poor backgrounds.
To date over 3,000 heart procedures have been performed. The Standard Group is one of the key sponsors.