About 60,000 children – one in every 100 infants born in Pakistan every year – are born with congenital heart disease (CHD), sometimes referred to as a hole in the heart. Most of them do not survive beyond their first few years due to lack of awareness, and inadequate diagnostic and treatment facilities.
Punjab golfers came together at the Defence Raya Golf and Country Club on Sunday to support Mending Kids’ Hearts, a cause initiated by the Aga Khan University (AKU) to raise awareness over a game of golf and support for the tiny CHD patients who cannot afford the cost of a life-saving treatment.
Dr Babar Hasan, Associate Professor, Paediatrics and Child Health, and Service Line Chief, Children’s Hospital, AKUH
Previously, two tournaments held in Karachi supported over 150 CHD corrective procedures; the tournament in Lahore will fund an additional 30 procedures.
The winning team: Defence Raya Golf and Country Club
“When children with CHD receive timely treatment, including newborns whose hearts are the size of a strawberry, 85 per cent can survive into adulthood to live healthy and productive lives,” said Dr Babar Hasan, an associate professor of paediatrics and child health, and service line chief of the children’s hospital at the Aga Khan University Hospital.
“Early CHD patients have very subtle symptoms, such as irregular breathing patterns, or immature growth. Children with these conditions might appear smaller than others their age and not as strong. More importantly, many parents are not equipped with enough knowledge to recognize these signs,” he said.
Dr Hasan commented that poverty is the greatest barrier to successful treatment of CHD. “The high mortality and morbidity, specifically from CHD, is also related to poor health strategy and inadequate paediatric cardiology facilities in the country. Most patients are not diagnosed until they are older, making CHD more complicated to treat”.
On the occasion, Hans Kedzierski, CEO of AKUH and Zahir Janmohamed, director general of AKU’s Resource Development, lauded partners and players for supporting the cause.
Each year, the congenital cardiac programme team at AKUH performs more than 400 paediatric cardiac procedures. It is the only programme in the country to be both accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI) and recognised by the International Quality Improvement Collaborative (IQIC).
Seventy per cent of CHD patients at AKUH come from families without the financial means to afford the cost of outstanding surgical and medical care. The Hospital’s Patient Welfare Programme has assisted over 2.25 million patient visits with Rs 9.5 billion disbursed since its inception in 1986.
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Source: AKU edu