Child heart surgeries put on backburner

G V R Subba Rao

HYDERABAD:

A year after two children with congenital heart diseases died while protesting the lack of access to medical care, the government’s programme of paying for their heart surgeries has slowed down to a crawl.

 On August 7, 2004, hundreds of ailing children were mobilised by the Madiga Dandora to march to Ambedkar Bhavan to highlight the non-availability of affordability of health care to children from the poorer sections.  After two of the children died due to the strain of the protest march, the government pledged to pay for the surgeries of 5,956 children with heart ailments, to be treated free of cost in state and private hospitals. Chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy sanctioned Rs 8 crore from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund towards the surgeries.  Of this amount, Rs 5.04 crore has been spent and about 2,317 surgeries were performed and about 780 children received medical intervention. The rest of the children are still waiting for their turn.  A good number of them are in urgent need of surgery with some of them having waited for up to eight years. The government’s screening programme for such children has long since stopped and senior medical officials including the director of medical education (DME) have not been visiting hospitals to monitor the programme.

Recently, two social workers—M Sambasiva Rao and M Bharat Bhushan—filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the High Court seeking a fiat to the government to explain why the surgeries have stopped.

Monday, November 28, 2005  TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Times of India

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