Fabiola Munyana is an adorable and always smiling two-year old girl from Kayonza District, Eastern Province. By the time she was six months old only, her parents noticed something strange about her health, because she would get tired so easily and have difficulty while breathing.
That’s when they decided to take her to the hospital, where they would later hear the bad news that their second born child was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a combination of four heart defects all present at birth.
This critical congenital heart defect affects the structure of the heart and results in poor blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
Fortunately, after some time, Munyana was part of different groups of Rwandan children that were taken to Israel for heart treatment, and she is already recovering after a successful life-saving cardiac surgery.
The story of Munyana is no different from that of other 42 children who have so far received heart treatment in Israel since 2017, following an agreement inked between Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and Save a Child’s Heart (SACH).
The latter is an Israel-based international non-profit organisation with a mission of saving children with severe congenital and acquired heart defects.
These children went for heart treatment in different groups over the years. The latest one went in August this year, and were composed of 10 children aged between 2 and 18 years old.
According to Simon Fisher, the Executive Director of Save A Child’s Heart, there is a plan to treat more children from Rwanda.
“We are happy to receive these children from Rwanda, one of the many countries we work together to save lives of children. These children need lifesaving heart treatment for them to survive, and that is what SACH will provide. Under the MoU we have with the Ministry of Health, we plan to receive more children from Rwanda in the near future,” he noted.
Speaking about the partnership, Dr. Ron Adam, the Ambassador of Israel to Rwanda, commended the fruitful relations between Israel and Rwanda.
“We are happy to see Rwandan children receiving lifesaving heart treatment in Israel. This partnership stems from the good ties between Israel and Rwanda, and it is one of the many existing areas of cooperation,” he said.
In a similar arrangement, Rwandan doctors will also go to Israel for training.
According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally.
An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke. Over three quarters of CVD deaths take place in low- and middle-income countries.