|A child being examined at GMCH in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Oct. 25: The Gauhati Medical College and Hospital today saw a record turnout at its free screening camp to detect children suffering from congenital heart defects for free surgery at Bangalore and Calcutta.
The four-day screening camp, held at the paediatric surgery department at GMCH to detect CHD in children aged up to 14, has examined 598 patients from 18 districts in the state.
The camp, which officially ended on Friday, selected 338 children with congenital heart defects for free surgeries at top bracket heart institutes in Bangalore and Calcutta.
Abhijit Sarma, additional superintendent of GMCH and coordinator of the free heart surgery scheme, told The Telegraph that the hospital was planning to extend the camp for another day to include the names of any patient who might be in the high-risk group.
The huge turnout of patients for such camps holds significance considering that the GMCH faced criticism for allegedly not being able to adequately publicise the Assam government’s scheme to provide free surgery for children with congenital heart defects.
The hospital had to face criticism after a couple from Nalbari district committed suicide by jumping into the Brahmaputra for allegedly not being able to collect enough money to treat their child, who had the defect. The couple took the extreme step along with their child.
“This year’s turnout has vindicated our stand. We have been leaving no stone unturned to create awareness and publicise about such noble schemes of the government,” Sarma said.
The number of patients in the entire state will be more once the screening camps are held in Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh district on Saturday and Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, Jorhat and Silchar Medical College and Hospital in Silchar on October 28, Sarma said.
He said the number of patients selected for free surgery is expected to touch 400 this time. He said children who have attended the screening camp at GMCH and were selected for free surgeries are those under the very high-risk group.
There were some children in the camp who were found to be in the high-risk and moderate-risk category, who would be sent to Bangalore and Calcutta later.
“High turnout also indicates that the number of children with congenital heart defects in Assam is rising,” a paediatric surgeon said.