Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 20th December 2023. In a ground-breaking development, the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam (AKH, D), proudly emerged as one of the pioneer healthcare institutions in Tanzania to provide Bariatric Surgery (Weight Loss Surgery) starting July 2023. This milestone was realized through a collaborative effort with Dr. Syed Tanseer Asgher, a distinguished Bariatric surgeon, with over fifteen years of expertise in the field and a track record of more than 3,020 successful bariatric procedures. Joining forces with Dr. Sana Sharafat, a specialist in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery, AKH, D witnessed the successful completion of four surgeries in July 2023. The collaborative momentum continued as Dr. Tanseer returned to AKH, D, conducting an additional five bariatric procedures from 11th to 17th December 2023.
Bariatric surgery encompasses a range of interventions, including gastric bypass, designed to modify the digestive system and facilitate weight loss for individuals. This specialised minimally invasive procedure is conducted through laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) techniques. It proves especially advantageous for individuals grappling with severe obesity, characterised by excessive body fat – a chronic condition stemming from imbalanced consumption of processed foods and insufficient physical activity. However, making healthy choices is often hindered by broader factors such as low socio-economic status and inequality.
Dr Athar Ali, Senior Consultant Surgeon, and Head of the Department of Surgery at AKH, D, stated that “in Tanzania, the reported prevalence of overweight and obesity are 34.8% and 32.4%, respectively. To grapple with the rising prevalence of obesity and its associated health risks, AKH, D has launched an obesity screening clinic and introduced this collaboration with an international team of Bariatric surgeons from Pakistan.”
Dr. Blessing Mkenda, General Surgeon at AKH, D, mentioned that “this partnership programme provides an opportunity for Tanzanians to access advanced medical care in their homeland, which they previously had to travel miles abroad for.”
Dr. Tanseer expressed that, “Bariatric surgery can improve the quality of patients’ lives by helping them achieve substantial weight loss. Obesity is not just a cosmetic concern. It increases the risk of many other non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, sleep apnea and certain cancers.”
Dr. Sana added that, “Bariatric surgery has shown to be a revolutionary game changer in medicine; compared to other treatments for obesity, bariatric surgery can help preserve the “enhanced metabolism,” reduce risk of death, and even cure Type 2 diabetes among those with obesity.”
Moreover, Dr. Tanseer and Dr. Sana actively participated in enhancing the skills of local Tanzanian surgeons, a crucial element for the long-term sustainability and expansion of the bariatric surgery programme at AKH, D. The hospital steadfastly upholds its commitment to supporting government health initiatives aimed at providing quality and affordable treatments in Tanzania.
Davies W. Nyari
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