Shocking statistics have been revealed after a visit to Vanua Levu and Taveuni by the team from the Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital Fiji resulted in the discovery of 121 children affected with heart disease.
All the children diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease during the screening clinics have been referred for further ECHO screening, and if surgeries are required, they will have them done at the Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital in Suva free of cost.
The startling statistics are of deep concern as it points to the problem being widespread throughout rural Fiji.
Led by visiting Cardiologist from India Dr. Yogesh Sathe, the 5-member team from Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital and accompanied by Priya Lata from FENC Fiji conducted a very successful heart screening outreach for children in Vanua Levu and Taveuni.
During the week-long screening outreach in late October, the team visited Labasa Divisional Hospital, Nabouwalu Health Centre, Savusavu Health Centre as well as the Taveuni Hospital.
All heart screenings were done completely free of cost.
368 children had their hearts screened.
Out of these children, 42 children were diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) and 79 children with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).
The children with Congenital Heart Disease are the ones who most likely need surgical intervention.
Congenital Heart Disease is a heart abnormality present at birth. The problem can affect the heart walls, the heart valves and the blood vessels.
Cardiologist from India Dr. Yogesh Sathe says this screening camp was very vital in understanding the ground realities of child health, particularly pediatric cardiac health, in rural and maritime Fiji.
He says they are the first cardiac team to reach out to the children in Labasa, Savusavu and Taveuni after the recent COVID pandemic.
Doctor Sathe says he could see many rare Congenital Heart Disease cases in these areas which were not seen back in Viti Levu in the past 3 months.
He adds that early detection of this will enable favorable chances of survival and successful treatment.
Doctor Sathe says the discovery of these cases shows that it is their primary responsibility to act as a catalyst in speeding up the efforts of Congenital Heart Disease awareness/early detection in the general population by training primary care pediatricians and community practitioners, health workers, nursing units at multiple places.
Since opening in April this year, the hospital has already given a new Gift of Life to 81 children from Fiji. All surgeries were done totally free of cost.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, without appropriate surgical treatment, about 75 percent of babies born with a critical Congenital Heart Disease are expected to survive to one year of age. About 69 percent of babies born with critical Congenital Heart Disease are expected to survive to 18 years of age.
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