THE Muhimbili National Hospital has officially started offering bone marrow transplant services giving new hopes to patients in need of the specialized service.
According to experts at MNH the transplant is performed to patients whose stem cells have been damaged or destroyed due to diseases or conditions like sickle cell, leukemia and some types of cancers.
The procedure also known as stem cell transplant is done by replacing damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells.
The commencement of these services is a milestone in the country's health sector as it strive to become a medical tourism hub.
MNH Executive Director Prof Lawrence Museru told journalists on Monday that the national hospital has successful conducted the procedure to five patients at MNH Upanaga and Mloganzila.
He said the milestone which has been spearheaded by the government efforts to take specialized medical services near to the people is the first one to be performed in Eastern and Central Africa.
In addition to Tanzania, African countries, which currently perform bone marrow transplants, are South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Comoro and Nigeria.
Prof Museru said that the availability of the services in the country will help to reduce the cost incurred by Tanzanians and government in general to accessing the services from abroad.
"This development will provide an avenue for the needy patients to access such services within the country thus serving lives," he said.
According to Prof Museru, the cost of sending one person for the treatment to Indian costs up to 250m/- but when the patient is treated in the country will have to pay only 70m/- .
Prof Museru also expressed MNH's gratefulness to the government for dishing out 7bn/- to the country's national referral hospital which have facilitated the commencement of the services and establishment of a centre for excellence which will be used for knowledge transfer to other health personnel.
"The projections are that we will be able to perform bone marrow transplants up to 48 people every year. It is estimated that 200 patients need this specialized medical service. They include those suffering from sickle cell, aplastic anemia,"
In another development, the national hospital plans to offer in vitro fertilisation (IVF) service, next year.
Experts describe IVF as a process where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro.The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing the ovum or ova from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in liquid in a laborator
Prof Museru said that IVF is expected to commence next year after completion of all important preparations among others training of health personnel.