Heart Diseases in

Kenya

The Ministry of Health estimates that more than 200,000 children under 18 years old suffer from heart disease in Kenya. About 50% of these have congenital heart problems of various types and severity”
Congenital heart disease affects children from all classes.

However, in the case of rheumatic heart disease it is heavily weighted against the poor who live in over-crowded or damp conditions with poor access to health care. Knowing the situation in Kenya all children are at risk. Each year, over 10,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect. In the past few years, Kenya has endeavored to address this issue by upgrading cardiac services and increasing medical personnel at various hospitals. Lacking access to modern medical cardiac care, many of these children from the poorest families fail to live past their early childhood years.

There are an estimated 3,000 pediatric cases per year in Kenya that require heart surgery, based on population (36,000,000), birth rates, and known percentage of pediatric heart defects. Currently only about 100 surgeries or so are being performed annually in the country, many of these by foreign mission teams from the United States, United Kingdom, and India.

Kenya has some good medical facilities, especially in Nairobi. The Mater Hospital, one of THAP’s hospital partners, has increased its pediatric heart care capabilities. Other hospitals in Nairobi such as the Aga Khan Hospital have established new or enhanced cardiac care units including the government hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital.
However, they are inadequate for the magnitude of the medical needs of the country. Moreover, they are largely geared to the wealthier members of society, leaving the majority of the population with little hope of obtaining the necessary care when serious medical conditions arise.