Declare February 14th as Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day for India

Declare February 14th as Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day for India

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Rubina Coelho started this petition to Government of India and

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is one of the most common types of birth defects. Out of 100 children born around the world, one is expected to have CHD  and newborn survival rates depend on where in the world the baby is born. If access to screening, early diagnosis and treatment is available, the baby has a 95% chance of survival with good long-term outcome. Such advanced care is practically unavailable to over 90% of babies born in developing countries, including India.

While one cardiac center caters to a population of approximately 120,000 in North America, in Asia, a population of 16 million people is served by one center. Similarly, the number of cardiac surgeons per person is considerably better in North America and Europe (one cardiac surgeon per 3.5 million people) as compared with Asia (one cardiac surgeon per 25 million). These figures indicate the number of children born with CHD in Asia and Africa that have no or minimal access to healthcare, which ultimately results in a much higher child mortality rate compared with the rest of the world.

Currently hospital-based studies have shown that the prevalence of CHD in India does not seem to be much different from the worldwide prevalence. Due to high birth rates in India, it is expected that approximately 150,000–200,000 children are born with CHD in India every year. Of these, approximately a third to a quarter (∼50,000) would need early intervention to survive the first year of life. These estimates are based on regional hospital-based data and the actual numbers may be higher.

My son is a CHD warrior, battling since the past 15 years. As a family we have faced a multitude of issues across the years. We have established an awareness initiative called Team Josh that conducts  awareness programs annually. There is an urgent need to raise awareness on a national level,  increased education about services available and adequate health policies for funding of treatment and increased accessibility to medical care for all children affected by Congenital Heart Defects.

Declaring February 14th as Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day will be one step forward to acknowledgment and encouragement towards better health care systems, support and policy changes.

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