LOCAL heart patients are set to benefit from a new health initiative launched over the weekend by medical service providers ZimHeart Trust and Rapiso Emergency Health Assist.

The initiative is meant to ease the burden of treatment for ZimHeart Trust  members amid high costs of heart surgeries.

Speaking on behalf of ZimHeart, one of the members, Paul Chirikure said the programme came at an opportune time as they were continuously losing their members due to medical costs.

“Treatment for heart disease is very expensive and straining. Locally, heart surgeries cost nearly US$6 000 while in countries like India it costs between US$10 000 and US$15 000 besides travelling, accommodation and other expenses. The medication here is also deterrent and one easily defaults treatment, leading to early death,” he said.

He said the recent open heart surgeries done at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals to 12 patients was a ray of hope because they were now aware that the operationscould be done locally, lessening the burden of excessive costs and travelling.

“We are grateful for the open heart clinics that were started in June by the government and thankful that the first group had free operations. However, more support is needed for heart patients,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of Rapiso Emergency Health Assist, Michael Magweni said ZimHeart members would benefit from their medical scheme.

“We are offering members with ZimHeart cards that entitle them to discounts and possibly credit at selected pharmacy chains and hospitals including Mbuya Dorcas Hospital,” he said.

He introduced Rapiso, a new medical insurance that gives members, among other things, an opportunity to get treatment on credit and bonus points for treatment with an option for cash back.

The event also commemorated World Heart Day which is celebrated on September 29 each year.

According to the World Heart Federation, approximately 17,9 million patients die of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) worldwide. About 80% of CVD deaths are due to heart attacks, and strokes, while 30% happen to people under 70 years.