The University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) has announced a partnership with the Voom Foundation and U.S military to conduct open-heart surgery and thorough research on malaria. The hospital also intends to improve healthcare delivery by expanding its capability in surgeries. 

In light of this, the Voom Foundation will provide training and education for the first UCTH open-heart surgery in April 2020. Facilities and personnel have already been mobilized ahead of April’s target.

“We are planning open heart surgeries within the first two weeks of April 2020. We are working hard towards that with the Voom Foundation and we have taken delivery of consumables for constructing a dedicated theatre suite for the surgeries. Members of staff and biomedical engineers are already on standby. We are refurbishing our machines, which will be used for the surgeries,” Chief Medical Director of UCTH, Prof. Ikpeme A. Ikpeme said.

If the surgery is conducted successfully, UCTH will join the league of hospitals with competent in open-heart surgery.

Malaria has been a major threat to public health in Nigeria, especially for those living in rural areas. According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria accounts for 25 percent of malaria cases worldwide, with 97 percent of Nigerians currently at risk of malaria. It is also estimated that malaria contributes to 11 percent of maternal mortality in Nigeria.

The United States Military and UCTH will partner to research malaria and drug resistance. The research will cover clinical and field aspects. Also, the research will build on the findings and achievements from previous results by the Institute of Tropical Disease Research and Prevention.

Speaking on the development the Prof. Ikpeme said “On the area of research as a teaching hospital, We are trying to develop and build upon the achievements of our institute for tropical research in the hospital and we are collaborating with the United States (US) military to research on malaria and drug-resistant in the tropics. Both clinical and field research is going on.”

With the launch of open-heart surgery in UCTH, it is hoped that more lives would be saved. Usually, services like this are provided by private institutions. However, they are expensive because government health facilities and services can not meet public health demands. 

It is fair to say the Nigerian healthcare system is struggling. There are several challenges like finance, facility, research, and accessibility. These obstacles have triggered Nigerians to lose confidence in the health system. However, the Nigerian government has assured its citizens on the commitment to making healthcare available for all, having discouraged citizens from seeking treatment abroad.

If the government is committed to reducing medical tourism, it can also consider more partnerships in addition to the support of international communities committed to improving Nigerian healthcare.

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