About 70,000 babies with congenial heart disease (CHD) are born every year in Pakistan; the numbers are far higher in India. The Heart to Heart initiative of Aman ki Asha and the Rotary Humanitarian Project provide free heart surgeries for such children, especially aged between 3 to 20 years from poor families.
Over 60 children from India and Pakistan have already been successfully operated on under this initiative, formally launched in March 2011 with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Rotary India Humanity Foundation, Rotary Pakistan and Aman ki Asha. The MOU was signed after several meetings to review and finalise the plan for implementation.
Under this initiative, Rotary and hospitals in India help Pakistani children who need immediate open-heart surgery. Resources are being developed and enhanced to enable more surgeries in Pakistan (starting with Aga Khan Hospital and National Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases, Karachi). Pakistani Rotarians also contribute for the heart surgeries of Indian children in India.
The initiative promotes peace by engaging with ordinary people in both countries. Besides facilitating heart surgeries, it is establishing ten eye care centres (including a mobile surgery unit), a youth exchange programme, training young doctors and nurses, enhancing cardiac facilities and supporting several projects and activities in the fields of education and health (including projects for disease prevention and treatment), and poverty alleviation (includes skill development and providing related facility/support) to facilitate economic development of some communities.
"Let it be in the thousands"
A newspaper advertisement and word of mouth information by Rotarians in both countries led to over 150 applications in Pakistan within the first week. There are already over 250 applications in hand. Over 200 surgeries have been planned for children from underprivileged families in Pakistan and India.
"We don't want to stop at 200," says Rotary Director Shekhar Mehta in India. "We can go even beyond. Rotary will do as much as possible... let it be in the thousands."
After receiving the applications and verifying that they belong to the lowest economic levels, Rotary contacts the shortlisted hospitals for approval. Scheduling surgeries can take a long time for Pakistanis who don't have passports. After they have obtained their passports, visas, bus and transit hotel bookings are organised. We remain grateful to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad for prioritising and facilitating the applications.
The advance arrangements, efficiency and care that the Rotarians provide patients and their families is particularly moving and impressive, starting with a send-off in their hometowns.
Rotarians receive them at Lahore and help them on to Delhi where Rotarians receive them and send them to the hospital. There, they are also met on arrival and hosted with full care. After the surgery, after the patients have recovered satisfactorily, their return journey is facilitated in the same manner.
It is tremendously satisfying when the patients return, helped by so many. The Rotarians who are involved say they love doing what they do, in the pure spirit of volunteerism.
Helping communities to help themselves
Rotary-Aman ki Asha community and peace initiatives
Eye hospitals: An eye hospital is being set up in Malir, Karachi, besides mobile eye hospitals for rural Pakistan. A state-of-the-art retinal camera has been purchased for an eye hospital in Sonepat, Haryana, India, to help provide free, quality eye surgery to the poor. Rotarians from Bangalore and Karachi have completed a cataract eye surgery project at a Rotary Hospital in Bangalore.
Enhancing congenital heart surgery in Pakistan: Developing and enhancing cardiac-related facilities with technical and in-kind resource related developments at existing facilities in Pakistan, to develop their capacity to handle more surgeries, besides training young doctors and nurses.
Community development projects: Indian and Pakistani Rotarians are collaborating on several grassroots level projects on education and health, improving facilities like furniture, bathrooms, drinking water, school bus etc., upgrading hospitals and medical centres, providing up-to-date equipments for Delhi's Paediatric Palliative Care Centre, a blood bank at Memon Medical Institute and National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, Karachi, and cataract surgeries in Bangalore, and supporting the local government to prevent malaria in Sonepat, India. A joint poverty alleviation project supports cattle farming with mechanically backed milk-processing facilities in rural area of Sindh, Pakistan.
Indo Pak youth exchange: Involving boys and girls aged between 18 and 23 years - Pakistani youth will visit Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in December 2011, while Indian youth will visit Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad in January 2012, staying at the homes of Rotarians.
Most surgeries are performed in Kolkata and Durghapur; other cities include, but are not limited to, Bangalore, Delhi, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Nagpur. The doctors active in this initiative include:
Renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty founded the Narayana Hrudayalaya, a multi-specialty hospital in the outskirts of Bangalore to provide high-quality, affordable treatment. His many firsts include being the first heart surgeon in India to perform neo-natal open-heart surgery and to use an artificial heart. Many of his operations are on children, free for under-twelves. Dr. Shetty is also credited with introducing Yashasvini, a health insurance scheme at nominal rates in collaboration with the Government of Karnataka.
Dr Ajay Kaul, Director Cardio Thoracic and Vascular surgery, B. M. Birla Heart Research Centre, Kolkata, has a wide experience of performing keyhole (Endoscopic) heart surgery, total arterial beating heart Coronary Bypass Surgery, and heart surgery in infants and neonates.
Dr. Satyajit Bose founded The Mission Hospital, a multi-specialty hospital in Durgapur, West Bengal, where he is also is the Chief Cardiac Surgeon and Chairman. He has worked as the chief cardiac surgeon at Apollo Gleneagles, Kolkata and at leading hospitals in India. He is an avid painter and social worker, helping orphaned children through his Love and Care Foundation.
Dr. Mrinalendu Das has performed more than 5,000 cardiac surgical procedures and is well known for his expertise in repairing Congenital Heart Defects, Valve Replacements and Off-Pump Coronary Artery Surgery. Currently at Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Kolkata, his dream is to treat patients with compassion and care.
Heart to Heart
Shehkar Mehta, Kamal Sanghvi and Vivek Tankha (Rotary India Humanity Foundation);
Faiz Kidwai, Iqbal Quraishi and Pervez Ahsan (Rotary Pakistan); Shahrukh Hasan, Laleh Habib, Amir Zia and Bilal Zafar
(Aman ki Asha)
"I was fortunate to be part of the historic moment when Rotary and Aman ki Asha joined hands to ease the suffering of the less fortunate. Only an equitable society can be part of our dream, our asha. No society can progress if the fortunate do not lend a hand and share resources with the underprivileged"
- Kamal Sanghvi, Coordinator RIHF
Aman ki Asha-Rotary programme, India
"The partnership between Aman ki Asha and Rotary is the natural outcome of their common thoughts and vision. Aman ki Asha has the strength to reach common people, while Rotary is capable to contribute in improving their quality of life ."
- Faiz Kidwai, Rotary Coordinator for
Aman ki Asha-Rotary Programme in Pakistan
"There is no greater service than saving lives of children, giving new meaning to the word 'peace'. Heart to Heart exemplifies the Rotary motto 'Service Above Self'. As the former Indian President Abdul Kalam put it at the Rotary Polio conference, let us fight our common enemies, poverty and disease, instead of fighting amongst ourselves"
- Past District Governor Aziz Memon, Advisor,
District 3271 Gift of Life Committee, Pakistan
"The Rotary way to conflict resolution is 'peace through community service'. The smile on the face of parents whose child has undergone a successful heart reconstructive surgery in India, with all costs paid by Indian Rotarians for Pakistani children and by Pakistani Rotarians for Indian children; the bright shine in eyes of a young girl as she cracks a software code on a computer, one of the many gifted by Pakistan Rotarians, are only the tip of the iceberg..."
- Past District Governor Deepak Talwar,
District Rotary Foundation Chair,
Rotary International District 3010 Delhi, India
"This collaboration shows how Rotary's unique "human-to-human" network can contribute to
foster international understanding"
- Dr. Pervez Ahsan Khan, DG 2011-12,
District 3272 (Pakistan & Afghanistan)
"Aman ki Asha represents the true mindsets of the majority of the 1.6 billion people in both countries who want peace"
- M. Iqbal Qureshi, District Governor,
Rotary International, District 3271, Pakistan
"This collaboration reflects the understanding that serving humanity is a cause sans borders. Our joint efforts reflect the awareness of the vital need to improve the lot of ordinary people in both countries"
- Irfan Qureshi, Member District 3271,
Rotary-Aman ki Asha Committee, Pakistan
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
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Page 70 of 177
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