Dr. Vivienne Aiyana Mlawi


Dr. Vivienne Aiyana Mlawi became familiar with Save a Child’s Heart through their medical missions to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute in 2015.


1. Where and when were you born?

I was born in 1986 in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

2. What was your family life like?

I grew up as the second oldest in a family of four children. I was a very quiet child but loved to play with my siblings all day. We were a very close-knit family. ‍

3. Why did you want to be a doctor?

As a child, I never thought I would be a doctor. I wanted to be a lawyer, like my father. My father felt I should do the same. In high school chemistry, my teacher told me that she supported the idea as well and encouraged me not to do anything with the sciences. I was stubborn, however, and their encouragement towards a career in law, made me decide to pursue medicine. My mother agreed, so I went for it!‍

4. What experiences motivated you to pursue medicine?

During my final exams, I scored the highest in chemistry in the entire country. While the arts were always easy for me, I found that science was challenging and required effort. Medicine turned out to be the ultimate challenge. Everything was to prove a point.‍

5. What medical training have you received and where?

I received my undergraduate medical degree over the course of five years at Tanzania’s Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences. After that, I interned for one year at the affiliated hospital, following which I worked as a medical officer for one year at Doctors Plaza Heart Clinic in Tanzania. I finally arrived at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute, my home institution, where I worked as a pediatric registrar for two and half years before coming to train in Israel (for the first time) in pediatric critical care through Save a Child’s Heart between 2015-2017. I’ve now returned to Israel for another year of training to advance my skills as an intensivist.

6. Why did you choose your specialty?

I wanted to pursue critical care because I saw it as an important challenge. On top of that, cardiology was the most interesting specialty to me.

7. How did you find out about the medical training program in Israel?‍

I became familiar with Save a Child’s Heart through their medical missions to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute in 2015.

8. Why did you decide to pursue this program with Save a Child’s Heart?‍

‍At the time, I had applied for training in pediatric emergency medicine in South Africa and was on a 2-year waiting list. I was so excited by the opportunity offered by SACH, especially because I could not have super-specialized in cardiac care in South Africa.

9. What is the status of pediatric care and/or your specialty in your home country?

It is essentially non-existent. I was the first and I am currently one of the only pediatric intensivists in my country.‍

10. What motivates you to train and return to your home country to practice medicine?

My biggest motivation to be a doctor is that I can do something good for my people when I go home. I know I will go back as a better doctor to provide care and help train my colleagues so that even more people have access to quality care  in Tanzania.

11. How long is your training in Israel for?

My initial training in Israel was two years long. I was here from 2015-2017 and I came back in January 2020 for one year (after a maternity leave) to complete my training.