Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 28th July 2023. In line with His Highness The Aga Khan’s vision of accessible quality healthcare services, the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam (AKH, D), became among the first hospitals in the country to offer Bariatric Surgery (Weight Loss Surgery). This accomplishment was possible through collaboration with Dr Syed Tanseer Asgher from Pakistan, a renowned Bariatric surgeon with more than fifteen years of experience in the field and who has done more than 3,000 successful bariatric procedures. In our first batch, we have operated four patients and we will hold another surgical camp in the coming months.
Dr. Athar Ali, Head of Surgery, at the Aga Khan Hospital Dar es Salaam said, “Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) consists of various procedures, such as gastric bypass, that concern making changes to the digestive system to make an individual lose weight. It is a specialised minimally invasive procedure, done through laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) techniques, which focuses on helping those individuals who struggle with severe obesity to achieve substantial weight loss while improving their quality of life and holistic health. Obesity is a chronic disease defined as having excessive body fat. At the individual level, obesity is caused by consuming high levels of processed foods and performing low levels of physical activity.”
Dr. Athar added, “The root cause of obesity is often low socio-economic status and inequality, as they manifest as a lack of knowledge on healthy behaviors and an insufficient income to make healthier choices. Obesity increases the risk for various non-communicable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease (from high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure), sleep apnea and asthma (from breathing problems), osteoarthritis, and cancer”.
This a partnership program of its kind aimed at helping patients who are severely obese to achieve significant weight loss and improve overall health and quality of life in the comfort of their home country.
Speaking during an interview with other clinical dept representatives on the significance of this milestone, Dr. Mandela Makalala, Internal Medicine Specialist at Aga Khan Hospital Dar es Salaam said. “Bariatric surgery has shown to be a revolutionary game changer in medicine. According to International Diabetic Federation (IDF), there are 897,000 reported cases of Diabetes in Tanzania, which is 3.6% of the adult population in 2019. According to the Global nutrition report, 15.2% of adult women and 5 % of adult men have obesity in Tanzania.
Dr. Makalala added that “Recent studies have shown that bariatric surgery could actually be a long-awaited cure for those people with Type 2 diabetes, and for those who are suffering from obesity, with no diabetes, it could reduce the risks of getting diabetes”.
Dr. Tanseer sheds more light on this with his previous experience and adds that “One of the causes for the improvement in type 2 diabetes is because food intake is restricted once the surgery is done, mainly refined carbohydrates, which usually aren’t tolerated well after certain types of weight loss surgery. This helps to alleviate blood sugar levels, which has a direct impact on diabetes. Secondly, when a patient loses a significant amount of weight after the procedure, it improves insulin resistance.”
The Hospital constantly makes immense efforts to complement the government health initiatives towards ensuring quality treatments and affordable are available in Tanzania whilst remaining up to date with the advancements in the medical community. Their collaborative efforts with various specialists and international partners worldwide focus on providing holistic care under one roof through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. AKHS, T strives to continue expanding its services within Tanzania for the citizens who previously travelled miles abroad for treatments now available here and for our neighbouring countries.