Thursday, April 28, 2011
In February of this year, Aman ki Asha – the peace campaign jointly launched by the Jang group and the Times of India – signed an agreement with Rotary India Humanity Foundation (RIHF) and Rotary Pakistan to provide free heart treatment, including surgery, to 200 under-privileged Pakistani children.
As part of the ‘Heart to Heart’ initiative, launched today, children suffering from congenital heart defects will be sent to world renowned heart institutions in India to undergo comprehensive treatment, including surgery. This is a goodwill gesture by the RIHF, who will bear all medical expenses as well as the cost of boarding and lodging.
Parents of children with congenital heart defects are encouraged to apply for this program (All editions of the News and Jang today carry advertisements inviting applications). Aman ki Asha and the Rotary Foundation have formed a committee to review all applications through a transparent and thorough evaluation process. Renowned cardiologist, Dr. Azhar Faruqui, will head a committee that will review all cases and prioritize on the basis of agreed criteria that includes seriousness and urgency of the case as well as absence of the treatment facility in Pakistan. Most of the cases will pertain to infants or very young children the treatment for whom may not be available in Pakistan. It is estimated that every year, over 70,000 children born in Pakistan have congenital heart diseases.
However, treatment is not readily available for all and can be prohibitively expensive. There are currently only three hospitals in Pakistan that can perform the necessary treatment; these are Aga Khan University in Karachi, Lahore Children’s Hospital and the Armed Forces Medical Institute. In India, there are several institutions that specialize in surgery for infants and young children suffering from congenital heart defects.
Aman ki Asha and the Rotary Club also intend to send surgeons from Pakistan to India as part of a reciprocal vocational training program. At a later stage, Indian doctors will come to Pakistan as part of a mutual capacity building program.
The next step of the Aman ki Asha and Rotary Club partnership involves building a minimum of 10 eye hospitals throughout Pakistan to provide free treatment for the underprivileged. By leveraging the strengths of the two countries, Aman ki Asha and the Rotary Club are helping build bridges and to save lives.