The mission of Take Heart Association Project (THAP) is to facilitate and coordinate medical support programs for marginalized children affected by heart disease, so as to restore health, hope and happiness.
THAP’s vision is for Kenya to have a self-sufficient congenital heart program that can provide the necessary medical care to children and adults who suffer from heart defects and disease, especially for those who have few resources to pay for such care.
Peter Mbogo Kamau, THAP’s Executive Director (now deceased), founded THAP in the mid-1990s following the death of a close relative from rheumatic heart disease. Mr. Kamau and his relative traveled to India for her surgery due to the limited facilities and costs of heart surgery in Kenya. He turned his grief to action, devoting himself full-time to helping the thousands of patients who suffer from heart defects and disease. THAP is a registered nongovernmental organization in Kenya (www.thapkenya.org) and a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States.
The Ministry of Health estimates that more than 200,000 children under 18 years old suffer from heart disease in Kenya. About 50% of these have congenital heart problems (hole in the heart) of various types and severity. The other 50% have acquired heart disease – usually Rheumatic in origin, stemming originally from a streptococcal sore throat which was ill managed.
Congenital heart disease affects children from all classes, however, in the case of rheumatic heart disease it is heavily weighted against the poor who live in over-crowded or damp conditions with poor access to health care. Knowing the situation in Kenya all children are at risk.
Each year, over 10,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect. In the past few years, Kenya has endeavored to address this issue by upgrading cardiac services and increasing medical personnel at various hospitals. Lacking access to modern medical cardiac care, many of these children from the poorest families fail to live past their early childhood years.
There are an estimated 3,000 pediatric cases per year in Kenya that require heart surgery, based on population (36,000,000), birth rates, and known percentage of pediatric heart defects. Currently only about 100 surgeries or so are being performed annually in the country, many of these by foreign mission teams from the United States, United Kingdom, and India.
Kenya has some good medical facilities, especially in Nairobi. The Mater Hospital, one of THAP’s hospital partners, has increased its pediatric heart care capabilities. Other hospitals in Nairobi such as the Aga Khan Hospital have established new or enhanced cardiac care units including the government hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital.
However, they are inadequate for the magnitude of the medical needs of the country. Moreover, they are largely geared to the wealthier members of society, leaving the majority of the population with little hope of obtaining the necessary care when serious medical conditions arise.
THAP is well-known among the medical community throughout Kenya as a lifeline for those families with little or no financial resources whose children are in critical need of cardiac care. THAP is currently the only grassroots organization of its kind, assisting them in negotiating the maze of paperwork and logistical procedures associated with obtaining the needed lifesaving surgeries for their children, as well as post-operative care. THAP provides diagnostic medical tests, pre- and post-operative medications, information on healthier diets and nutrition, and assistance in working with doctors and hospitals to arrange for surgeries. Without THAP’s assistance, these children would not be able to live healthy, happy lives.
The role of the U.S. Board of Directors is key to THAP’s continued success. As a volunteer-run organization, the Hearts for Kids program of Take Heart Association Project insures that contributions and grants are used to support the THAP program and staff in Kenya.
THAP’s Hearts for Kids program is supported by individuals, families, foundations, businesses, churches and organizations from across the country. Gifts of all sizes are helping the Hearts for Kids program have a positive effect on the lives of children in need and their families. We hope you will join us by making a donation today.
A special thank you to our in-kind contributors: