Saturday, 2 October 2021

ZIM GETS FIRST FEMALE PAEDIATRIC CARDIOLOGIST

A paediatric cardiac centre opened this week at Mpilo Central Hospital to cater for children suffering from heart ailments and is headed by a history-maker, Zimbabwe’s first female pediatric cardiologist.

She was born three months after the country gained its independence from colonial rule and little did she know she would live to be Zimbabwe’s first female pediatric cardiologist.

Dr Davidzo Murigo-Shumba and her male counterpart in Harare Dr Charles Henry Bennerman are the only two paediatric cardiologists in the country.

Pediatric cardiologists specialise in diagnosing and treating heart problems in children.

Dr Murigo-Shumba once worked as a junior doctor at Mpilo before leaving to further her studies in South Africa, only to come back to Zimbabwe a few days before the opening of the Bulawayo pediatric cardiac centre.

Her love for children whose hearts she will be taking care of dates back to the 1980s in Bikita where she was raised.

She went to Victoria High School in Masvingo and proceeded to the University of Zimbabwe where she studied medicine before chasing her dream to specialise in pediatrics- a branch of medicine that involves the medical care of infants, children and adolescents.

Dr Murigo-Shumba spent four years specialising in paediatrics in neighbouring South Africa and three years to become a paediatric cardiologist.

She decided to come back home and serve hundreds of children who have struggled to access the services locally.

Paediatric cardiologists diagnose, treat, and manage heart problems in children, including congenital heart disease (abnormalities of the heart children are born with) such as holes between chambers of the heart, valve problems and abnormal blood vessels.

In Zimbabwe children with congenital heart diseases could only access life saving treatment in South Africa or India.

It is estimated that the services which were not accessible locally as there were no specialists like Dr Murigo-Shumba cost a minimum of US$10 000 excluding travel and accommodation costs.

A number of affected children have lost their lives in search of the services as charges were beyond the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Dr Murigo-Shumba said her love for children motivated her to invest her time and brains in studying cardiology as she is aware that many are suffering in Zimbabwe without local interventions. 

She is now back in Zimbabwe to play her part. She is the second paediatric cardiologist in the country after Dr Bannerman based in Harare. 

Dr Murigo-Shumba is stationed at the recently opened cardiology unit at Mpilo Central Hospital’s paediatric hospital to serve the people from the Southern region which includes Bulawayo, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and South provinces.

“My name is Davidzo Murigo-Shumba, a paediatric cardiologist who specialises in caring for children with heart diseases. I am happy to be back at Mpilo where I was a junior doctor some time back while I was doing medicine,” she said.

“I have been training at the KwaZulu Natal University in Durban where I spent four years specialising in paediatrics and then an additional three years to become a paediatric cardiologist.”

“I love children and it brings a smile to my face and heart when I eliminate the pain they are going through. So that is a passion for me. While I was training in pediatrics I was exposed to many other specialities and I fell in love with pediatric cardiology,” she said.

“I had this passion and desire to help them as I know they go through this suffering because non-communicable diseases do not get as much attention in Zimbabwe in general.”

Dr Murigo-Shumba said she is ready to join forces with other paediatrics at Mpilo and other health care workers to help children with heart diseases. Chronicle

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