More than 200 children with chest conditions, including hole-in-heart, who are receiving treatment at the National Cardiothoracic Centre (NCC) of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra cannot undergo surgery because their parents are unable to raise the money for the surgery.
Surgery at the centre costs between $5,000 and $12,000 and the Ghana Heart Foundation (GHF) takes care of 50 per cent of the cost.
The Director of the NCC, Dr Lawrence A. Sereboe, who made this known in an interview with the Daily Graphic on Thursday, expressed worry that some of the children with hole-in-heart and other chest conditions died occasionally while waiting for their parents to raise the amount for the surgery.
“Unfortunately, a few of them pass away while waiting for help to come. It is something we do not like at all. A few children die before they can be helped,” he said.
Dr Sereboe said normally corporate bodies and individuals raised the money to support surgery for children with hole-in-heart and rheumatic heart disease (a disease of the valves of the heart).
He said the NCC also used the money to buy items needed for the surgery.
“Whatever is used on any patient has to be recouped, so that we have the items for the next operation. So the operation has to be paid for,” he said.
Dr Sereboe said because the cost of equipment was quoted in dollars, the recent depreciation of the cedi against the dollar had made it more difficult for parents to get the cedi equivalent.
However, he said the cost of heart surgery in Ghana was cheap, compared with the about $15,000 charged in South Africa and more than $30,000 charged in Belgium.
Dr Sereboe called on corporate bodies and individuals to go to the aid of children with hole-in-heart and other chest conditions to save their lives.
He said it was through that support that the children could undergo surgery to correct their conditions, since their parents alone could not raise the amount needed for the surgery.
He indicated that children who were operated upon lived normal lives, while those who could not go through the surgery risked losing their lives.
Statistically, one child out of 100 births has a heart or chest condition.
Smoking, excessive drinking, long exposure to X-rays and poor eating habits by pregnant women are some of the causes of heart and chest conditions in children.
The taking of drugs without prescription and the failure of some expectant mothers to attend antenatal care are the other causes.
Dr Sereboe, therefore, urged pregnant women to avoid smoking, excessive drinking, the taking of unprescribed drugs and getting exposed to X-rays.
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