Pakistan shares a statistic with India, China and Indonesia: these four countries are home to half the children born with heart defects worldwide.
In Pakistan, a child born with a hole in the heart, known as congenital heart disease (CHD), is now healthier and living longer. But survival depends on how severe the defect is, how quickly it is diagnosed and how well it is treated.
With most births taking place in rural communities, the number of babies born with heart defects is unclear –
an estimate suggests that more than 60,000 infants with a hole in their heart are born each year. About half of these young patients will have a critical CHD and require surgery to survive one year.
The Aga Khan University Hospital has stepped in to assist these children and their families. Its Mending Kids’ Hearts campaign, now in its fourth year, offers help and hope to those without financial means by covering the cost of quality surgical and medical care of children needing hospital procedures.
Since the launch of the campaign in 2016, over 1,800 paediatric patients have undergone cardiac procedures at the University Hospital – a majority of whom received financial assistance of nearly PKR 400 million.
To expand the reach of the Mending Kids’ Hearts campaign, this year AKUH is targeting 300,000 individuals through a camp in collaboration with Aga Khan Maternal and Childcare Centre, Hyderabad. The aim of the camp is to treat children who are overlooked by the health system, and to ensure that they get diagnosed and treated at the University Hospital in time.
Dr Babar Hasan, Service Line Chief of AKUH Children’s Hospital said: “We are now closer to our goal of saving over 1,000 children with CHD each year by 2020. At this rate, we are hoping to exceed our targets. None of this would have been possible without the support of our community which has stood by us in our mission to provide high quality care to young children regardless of their financial background.”
The Mending Kids’ Hearts campaign has been working to raise both awareness of paediatric CHD and funds to support patients through the AKUH Patient Welfare Programme.
Its most recent fundraising event saw supporters of life-saving corrective CHD surgeries gather at the Karachi Golf Club on Sunday to compete in AKUH’s signature golf tournament to enable access to quality cardiac care.
The four-man Texas Scramble format was won by the UMA team comprising of Khalid Jamil Siddiqui, Asad I. A. Khan, Khurram Khan, and Arshad I. A. Khan with a gross score of 58, 14 under par on the championship course.