Sayali is only four-years-old. She was first detected with atrial septal defect (commonly known as a ‘hole in the heart’) when she was one-and-a-half-years-old. But her father, being a small-time farmer from Dharampuri village, didn’t have the financial resources to undertake treatment for Bhakti.
However, hope was not lost. Today, Bhakti is one among 8000 children identified by the Maharashtra State Government to undergo a funded surgery to give her a second chance at life.
Representational Image only. Source: Pixabay
Over 8000 children under 14, with life-threatening heart ailments like Bhakti, have been identified under the government-sponsored Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram. This is a state-wide screening and early intervention programme that will sponsor surgeries, in Mumbai, by Maharashtra’s top doctors at the best hospitals, both private and public, reported the Mumbai Mirror.
Most of these kids hail from remote and far-flung villages in the state and come from underprivileged backgrounds.
Speaking to the Mumbai Mirror, Additional Director, health services (family and welfare), Dr Archana Patil revealed that a team of over 1100 officers and 64 civil surgeons in 32 districts is coordinating to conduct camps in schools where the focus is on identifying children who need urgent medical intervention.
“These kids are being admitted to KEM, Sion, Balaji, and Narayana SRCC hospital,’’ she said.
With the first batch of 20 such children from villages of Parbhani district in Marathwada arriving in Mumbai this week, the government aims to conduct all 8000 surgeries by the end of 2018.
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Many of the families of the kids who were diagnosed with these life-threatening heart problems were unaware of their condition until the screening took place in their village schools. While others who knew their children were suffering didn’t have enough money to afford the expensive surgeries.
While a pediatric heart surgery costs at least Rs 1.5 lakh in a government hospital, the same surgery in a private hospital can burn a hole in the pocket of the parents or caregivers of almost Rs 10 lakh.
Speaking to the publication, Sayali’s father said, “This initiative is God-sent. I would weep every day looking at my child’s plight. I would curse myself for not being able to generate money to treat her. Now we have hope that our child will enjoy a normal life.”
At a meeting with the Indian Association of Paediatric Surgeons, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis found overwhelming support when several top doctors decided to volunteer for the programme.
The funding for these surgeries is likely to come from the state’s medical insurance scheme Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Aarogya Yojana and even the chief minister’s fund when needed. Also, a few of the Tata trusts have come forward to support the noble initiative and fund the surgeries.
Of the 20 kids, two underwent surgeries at Balaji Hospital last week. More surgeries might take place in government-run KEM and Sion hospitals too.
The state government is also looking forward to getting private-charitable hospitals to share the financial responsibility.
Lauding the government’s move, one of the senior Cardiothoracic Surgeons who operated on four kids, said, “I am glad that the current CM is keen about getting paediatric heart surgeries done as soon as possible. Last month I operated on four such patients for whom the money was sanctioned without any delay from the CM’s relief fund. Why would private hospitals hesitate if the government has paid half the money? Even we want to help these poor kids.”
We wish the state and the team of doctors and hospitals involved in this selfless initiative the very best! We hope this model is replicated by states that lack such facilities that could gift life to suffering children.
Feature image in-set credit: Mumbai Mirror