Mission to develop adult & adult-presenting congenital heart surgery in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. 

October 26th –November 5th, 2022

We have pleasure in announcing the fourth return mission to JKCI (The Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute), Dar Es Salaam. Volunteers will be enlisted from previous waiting list files, and on a first come, first served basis. You are encouraged to apply, and if there is insufficient room on one particular mission, your name will be held forward for the next available mission. 

The Republic of Tanzania was formed as a sovereign state in 1964 through the union of the separate states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Mainland Tanganyika covers more than 99 percent of the combined territories’ total area. It is bound by 7 countries through its borders and is South of the Equator. Dodoma, since 1974 the  designated official capital of Tanzania, is centrally located on the mainland. Dar es Salaam, however, remains the seat of most government administration, as well as being the largest city and port in the country. It has Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet), and the world’s second deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika (4,710 feet deep). The majority of Tanzanians are of Bantu descent. A third of the population are Christians and slightly more are Muslim. The two principal languages are Swahili and English. The economy is largely agrarian. 


Weather varies: it is equatorial, so there is no true Winter or Summer.  Rain showers are short but can occur  

Cardiac Surgery Status in Dar Es-Salam 

JKCI is the only dedicated cardiac institute in the country; it also attracts patients from some surrounding countries. It is affiliated with the University, has junior doctors rotating through the specialties there, and strongly emphasizes teaching. 

It has 128 beds, including 15 ICU beds (combined pediatric and adult), 3 OR theaters (at the time of visiting, only  two were in use) a pediatric and adult cardiac ward for pre and post-operative patients. 

A new pediatric ward with 50 beds is in development. There is a busy cardiac catheter laboratory and an outpatient clinic (open 6 days a week). The institute is funded publicly. 

The need for cardiac surgery development is dire. Complex cases are sent to India. As with other countries in Africa, there are very few centers doing cardiac surgery and even then, many are functioning at the minimal volume level. 



CardioStart’s role will be to continue the teaching plans to help further develop the adult cardiac surgery program in July. CardioStart will not be sending a container to this location. The team will work with the local team to further establish the essential features required for cardiac surgery and continue to help set the necessary benchmarks for the Hospital to retain its position as a regional tertiary referral center. 

The angio-catheter suite is functioning well and has accomplished several hundred procedures with the visiting US charity teams (led by Dr. Peter O’Brien, Virginia, USA, Israeli team and a team from Kuwait). The program does regularly receive help with advanced cardiology interventional techniques. Although JKCI does do some coronary revascularization (CABG) they want more training in advanced techniques. Their personal experience with CABG and valve surgery is limited; they also have difficulty obtaining valves locally. The clinical program will include nursing, perfusion, ICU equipment preparation and teaching. The choice of heart cases will follow according to the discretion of the heart surgeons, and will likely be adult acquired, adult congenital presentations and valvular pathology, subject to cardiology review and recommendation. 


  • 2 adult cardiac surgeons (filled)
    1 -2 anesthesiologists (1 is filled)
    1 intensivist (adult experience)
    1 Cardiologist (may be non-interventional)
    2 perfusionists (+ 1 AMSECT applicant) filled
    4 adult cardiac ICU nurses
    1 educational nursing instructor (adult) 
  • 2 ACLS/ATLS/PARAMEDIC response teachers (1 filled)
  • 2 Outreach volunteers (construction & plumbing skilled)
  • 1 Database Research Scribe/Mission Coordinator


This will include one clinic assistance (conducting one or two peripheral clinics; orphanage assistance at a location in Dar es Salaam. Two volunteers will be sought to help repair roofs, and carry out essential plumbing development and maintenance. 


Airfare costs will be self-funded by each volunteer. Popular flight corridors are Delta or United from Dulles to Zurich or Amsterdam. Then to Nairobi or Kilimanjaro and on to Dar Es Salaam. Others have taken routes through London. In selecting your airfare, first choose the most convenient international embarkation point from your home state, as domestic travel from the point of origin may be negotiated separately and sometimes, more cheaply. 


This is covered by the local team and will be at the 4-star level in a safe, secure area in Dar es Salaam. Volunteers should expect that they may be asked to agree to same-sex room sharing in order to help reduce the costs incurred. CardioStart will assure minimum standards are met to ensure volunteer safety and comfort, but we will try to be sensitive to the financial burden borne by the local officials. 


During the day, some truly excellent meals will be provided for by the hospital. Evening meals/snacks, etc. are available in the hotel or local restaurants, at volunteer’s own expense. They are generally of a high standard and inexpensive. 


Tanzania is listed as Level 2 (exercise increased caution) on the website Travel.State.Gov as being a level 2 advisory: Random crime, terrorism (1998), and targeting of LGBTI westerners has occurred. The hospital and surrounding areas are safe according to mission teams that have already visited. Further advisories will be given to those who apply to join this mission. 

Medical issues: 

(Full details will be sent to those volunteers joining this mission). All volunteer activity will be carried out with full HIV precautionary measures. You should have a routine check before travel of your HIV and Hepatitis a/b/c status. Vaccinations must include a current Yellow Fever if you are traveling from a previously known yellow fever location, and tetanus protection (within 10 years) with certification. Volunteers will be advised to take malaria prophylaxis just before the mission and those with serious medical conditions should obtain consultation and approval from their doctor prior to the mission. The CDC website is also a helpful resource for international travel guidelines.  Mosquito protection is also advisory (sprays) as the region is at risk for Dengue infection. 

Applying to join the team: 

Simply contact us soon by going in to our website and registering your interest at www.cardiostart.org. If accepted, you will then receive a Selection Letter listing all the required documents. There is a $50.00 (USD) registration fee to be paid on the website by hitting the “donation” button. This helps us in our preparation and DHL mailing of documents to Tanzania’s Ministry of Health. Selection will be on a “first come – first served” basis and according to positions needed for the team.  All pre-mission information will be sent by e-mail. Therefore, we request you give us your personal e-mail address (not employment address) so that you can receive electronically derived information and attachments about the mission. (Volunteers using hospital or company web servers sometimes find that their institution’s spam filters block attachments and group mailings). 

Helping us to Prepare: 

We need help with Cardio/Vascular/Thoracic OR instruments, ICU disposables, central lines, oxygenators for heart surgery bypass, and general medical equipment and disposables to donate to the Hospital. If you hear of any equipment to donate, please contact us. (Info@cardiostart.org). Please ALWAYS obtain consent from your department Head, when receiving donations. We can provide a disclaimer to the donating institution and tax  information. 


Coastal, jungle trips and other adventures are worth considering. CardioStart mission leaders cannot directly help you make internal tourist travel arrangements but you can usually obtain cheap travel packages during the week you arrive. The beautiful Island of Zanzibar is a short ferry ride away and can be enjoyed as a weekend trip. 

Any other tour arrangements should be made for the time period after the mission ends. This time is considered a personal vacation and is not part of the mission; therefore, CardioStart assumes no responsibility. Tanzania has large national jungle parks and game reserves spread throughout the country.  Collectively they contain an abundant diversity of fauna, (buffaloes, roan antelopes, chimpanzees, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, hyenas, giant forest hogs, lions and leopards, as well as fascinating and diverse flora.