At least 235 children in rural areas who need immediate surgery — mainly for congenital heart defects — have been identified by the Pune district administration. Four months after six-year-old Vaishali Yadav, a resident of Pune, received cardiac surgery free of cost to repair a hole in her heart after appealing to the Prime Minister, the district health officials have introduced ‘Mission Dhanwantari’ for the medical treatment of underprivileged children.
A committee comprising district health officials, women and child welfare department officials, among others, was set up by District Collector Saurabh Rao to identify children requiring surgery mainly for heart-related ailments. “For three months now, we have conducted various surveys and collected information from over 4,000 anganwadis in 13 tehsils of the district,” Dr Bhagwan Pawar, district health officer, told Newsline. Data was gathered from the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), which allows children attending anganwadis to be checked for health benefits.
The health department has found that 163 children need corrective surgeries for various ailments, but congenital heart disease in common in the 0-6 age group. Another 72 who need surgeries have been listed under the state’s cashless insurance scheme — Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Yojana — but are still on the waiting list due to lack of proper documents.
Under the scheme, 267 heart operations were performed last year and 185 surgeries for other medical ailments. Now, a single window system will be set up at the district collectorate under the Dhanwantari mission, which is yet to be officially launched, Pawar said. Congenital heart problems (CHD) are very common.
According to experts, at least one in every 100 live births has some form of congenital heart disease or anomaly. Congenital heart disease is a condition that develops in the womb and each year, at least 10 lakh babies are born worldwide with this defect. In India, at least 1-1.8 lakh children are born annually with CHD. Parents are often too poor to treat such children and efforts are underway at various hospitals in the city to treat them at minimal cost through charitable trusts.
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Bomi Bhote, CEO of Ruby Hall Clinic, which conducted the heart surgery for Vaishali Yadav, said they are willing to participate in such endeavours.
“There should be joint ventures and trusts willing to come forward and sponsor these children,” he added. Pawar added that they would hold a meeting with various hospitals on the new initiative.