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 in the country.
The football legend made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Wednesday, in commemoration of the 2022 World Heart Day marked every Sept. 28.
Nwankwo said that if achieved, the centre would fill the gap in the health sector for the treatment of heart related diseases and reduce medical tourism to foreign countries like India, America, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
“Our dream in the Kanu Heart Foundation is to build a cardiac specialist centre 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.
Nwankwo urged governments to channel energy and funds to the health sector noting that many people died on a daily basis in Nigeria due to 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 wait-list for treatments. However, I am happy to say that 99 per cent of the surgeries done so far are successful,” he said.
On the World Heart Day, Nwankwo said that activities had been lined up in commemoration of the day which would be celebrated in Enugu State capital.
“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 round the coal city to create awareness on importance of healthy heart,” he said.
The footballer urged Nigerians to always go for regular checks to identify when they have heart related issues for quick medical attention
NAN reports that the Kanu Heart Foundation was established in 2000 by the footballer to help underprivileged African children and young adults living with different heart issues obtain medical attention.
The former Super Eagles captain had a heart surgery in 1996 to correct a faulty aortic valve which prompted him to set up a foundation to treat undiagnosed heart diseases and provide surgeries for indigent African children and young adults.