World renowned footballer, Kanu Nwankwo, says his dream is to build a state-of-the-art cardiac specialist hospital in Nigeria to help indigent children with heart diseases. Mr Nwankwo said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Wednesday in commemoration of the 2022 World Heart Day marked every 28 September. He said if achieved, the centre would fill the yawning gap in the health sector to treat heart related diseases and reduce medical tourism to foreign countries like India, the U.S., South Africa and the United Kingdom.
“Our dream in the Kanu Heart Foundation is to build a cardiac specialist center in Nigeria to save Nigerians especially indigent children with cardiac ailments but it is not what Kanu can do alone now.
“We need support from governments, corporate bodies, well-meaning Nigerians to achieve it,” he said.
Mr Nwankwo urged governments to channel energy and funds to the health sector, noting that many people died daily in Nigeria because of lack of adequate health facilities. He said that the foundation had sponsored over 600 heart surgeries between 2000 and 2022 with 80 per cent of the operations done in India.
“As I am talking to you, we have over 200 children on the waitlist for treatments. However, I am happy to say that 99 per cent of the surgeries done so far are successful.”
World Heart Day
On the World Heart Day, Mr Nwankwo said that activities had been lined up in commemoration of the day which would be celebrated in Enugu, Enugu State.
“About 300 people have already registered for the medical outreach holding in Enugu and we have also invited some medical practitioners from within and abroad, including cardiologists to attend to them.
“There will be a six kilometer walk from the Okpara Square venue of the event around the coal city to create awareness on the importance of a healthy heart.”
The footballer urged Nigerians to always go for regular checks to identify when they have heart related issues for quick medical attention. The Kanu Heart Foundation was established in 2000 by the footballer to help underprivileged African children and young adults living with different heart issues. Mr Nwankwo, a former captain of Nigeria’s national team, Super Eagles, had a heart surgery in 1996 to correct a faulty aortic valve. This prompted him to set up a foundation to treat undiagnosed heart diseases and provide surgeries for indigent African children and young adults.