A team of Indian doctors are currently at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu State, on a free paediatric heart surgery mission.
The doctors are on the sponsorship of the Catholic Church’s Spiritual Self Awareness Initiative.
It is expected that 25 children would benefit from the free open heart surgeries which lasts for eleven days, even as about 50 cases have so far been screened.
Founder and chief executive of the Spiritual Self Awareness Initiative, Rev Fr. Charles Ogada told reporters that the initiative was the first by his organization and would be on two times every year.
He said the surgeries are 100 percent free for the affected children disclosing that there were over 50 of such cases in the cue.
Ogada assured that those who could not benefit in this first stanza would be taken care of in the next visit of the doctors.
Leader of the five Indian doctors, Dr. Shush Katewa who said he had performed closed to 5000 paediatric cardiac surgeries in the last ten years expressed satisfaction in his contribution to the saving of lives of many children through the free paediatric cardiac surgeries.
According to him, one out of every 100 children born has a heart defect. Most of them, he said, occur in developing countries.
“Most of these children die because they are not diagnosed. The incidence, however, is not prevalence in the developing countries. It is just one percent as in the developed world.
The fact is that the number of children born in developing countries is higher than those born in the developed countries. This is where the issue of population control comes in.
For example in Nigeria with a large population, about 67,000 children are born yearly with heart defects and less than five percent of that number is diagnosed.
Most of the defects are congenital and attributable to when the mother is older. If the mother is older, the chances are that the child will be born with a heart disease,” he stressed.
Head of the UNTH’s Cardiothoracic Unit, Dr. Basden Onwubere, said that the hospital was poised to benefit from the expertise of the Indian experts.
He said that the local experts would be made to understudy them to enhance their practice and provide avenue for heart surgeries to be conducted purely by local medical experts.
He assured that with the various interventions and missions from the foreign partners on open heart surgeries, the hospital was looking forward to having her personnel taking charge of open heart surgeries this year.
Onwubere however lamented lack of support from the government, stressing that the programme had not run its full capacity due to insufficient funding.
He cited the cardiothoracic centre project that began seven years ago, saying that the project had been abandoned, adding that the hospital had not expanded the programme due to lack of facilities.