Two decades of war has ravaged the mountainous country of Afghanistan. Healthcare is one of the major casualties. Over 40% of children aged 0-5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, 85,000 die of diarrhea each year and the Infant Mortality Rate is 73. The country accounts for the world’s second highest mortality rate for children below the age of 5. There is one health facility for approximately 27,000 people and 25% people do not have access to healthcare.
Now CARE Hospitals and the Abraaj Group Healthcare Fund (AGHF), have collaborated with the Afghan Red Crescent Society to provide treatment to Afghani children suffering from Congenital Heart Disease. The year-long agreement aims at treating 500 Afghani children by the end of 2017. The initiative is called ‘Hearts Beat Beyond Borders’ as children travel from Afghanistan to Hyderabad, India to get treated by the best hands in cardiology. The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) is the Afghan affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
To gain trust and confidence, Afghan Red Crescent Society representatives visited CARE Hospitals, Hyderabad, India facility to view its Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) treatment competencies. They had interactive session with senior CARE doctors and were confident of CARE Hospitals’ capability to treat CHD patients. Under the agreement, all 500 children will be offered world-class surgical care at 40% subsidized rates. This is first time that the Afghan Red Crescent Society has entered into an association with a healthcare partner outside Delhi.
The journey has already begun. Parents, who earlier had bleak hopes of their children ever leading a normal life due to lack of advanced healthcare facilities to treat CHD in Afghanistan, are immensely grateful for this cross-border initiative. Faizullah, father of young Musavir who recently received treatment at CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, says, “The doctor explained to us in detail about the treatment and the risks involved in it. It gave me a lot of confidence for the surgery and I am very happy with the results now. Not only me, the other 12 children’s parents, who came along with us from Afghanistan are happy with the results. When we return to Afghanistan, we would recommend CARE Hospitals for anybody suffering with a cardiac problem.” Watch Mr Faizullah’s video here.
Another elated father Shanullah, whose child Babi Haji underwent a valve replacement surgery at CARE Hospitals affirms, “This hospital has provided excellent treatment. (They) performed a surgery and replaced a valve successfully. Everything was timely, whether it was medicines or food. We had an Afghani translator too. I have two friends in Afghanistan who were treated here and they are doing well now. The doctors here are very service oriented, and I have never seen such commitment, neither in Pakistan nor in Afghanistan. The doctors and the sisters in CARE Hospitals are loving and caring. I would be happy if we have a hospital like CARE in Afghanistan.” Watch Mr. Shanullah’s video here.
Ezat Mir, whose baby Babel Zehra had a hole in her heart, says “My daughter’s surgery was performed and I am really satisfied with the treatment. I had complete faith in the doctors, that they would give their best and was 100% confident about the surgery. The doctors and the nursing staff were very cooperative; I gained confidence when I spoke to them. The nursing staff was very affectionate, and they always treated us like their family. I will recommend this hospital for people across the world and especially for the people in Afghanistan who suffer from cardiac aliments. They have to visit India and especially CARE Hospitals in Hyderabad for quality surgery and good results. I can challenge you that you can’t find a hospital like CARE Hospital.” Watch Mr. Ezat Mir’s video here.
However, to carry out an endeavor of such magnitude and cost is never easy. Continuous support and coordination between multiple agencies, both clinical and non-clinical, is required. In addition to the treatment being facilitated by CARE Hospitals at 40% subsidized rates and ARCS and AGFC sharing this cost at a 300-200 patient ratio, even the domestic airlines extended support by offering 40% rebate in airfare of the patients as well as their attendants.
Like Musavir, Haji and Babel Zehra, around 50 children have been successfully treated at CARE Hospitals, Hyderabad by the end of 2016. The next batch of families is scheduled to arrive soon.
CARE Hospitals’ vision is to meet the 500 mark and then continue to give new life to more than 4000 children in the next 4-5 years.
Watch more parents talk about the surgery and their experience with us –
Mr Dawood speaks about his son’s heart surgery – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg9MFmzRx70
Mr Naqibullah speaks about his daughter’s heart surgery – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66OrXyYXw9Q
Mr Kabir speaks about his son’s heart surgery – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJQ15BLQvTQ
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