The carefree spirit of childhood, which lets a child run around, jump and play, may not be the fate for all. Many children suffer from heart diseases from birth, which prevents them from leading normal life like others; unless surgeries are performed to bring them back to life. But the complicated surgery is costly out of the reach for people who toil hard to make ends meet.
An initiative by the government of West Bengal aims at bringing back the smile among those could never even dream of affording such costly procedures. Shishu Sathi project unveiled by the government promises to provide free treatment to all the children who need heart surgery, irrespective of their family background.
The government has tied up with three private hospitals - BM Birla Heart Research Centre and RN Tagore Institute of Cardiac Sciences in Calcutta and Mission Hospital in Durgapur - to carry out the heart surgery, free of cost for the patient’s family. All children up to 18 years can avail this facility.
Screening tests have been conducted in state-run schools under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram launched by the Central government. According to Biswaranjan Satpathy, the Director of Health Services, 800 cases have been reported in 341 blocks of Bengal which require heart surgery.
Four year old Sandipa Biswas of Jorabagan became the first beneficiary of the project. She recently underwent a surgery to fix two holes in the top chamber of her heart. Showing a steady recovery, she would be back to school soon. Her father has a meager income of Rs 3,500 as a daily labourer and it would have been impossible for him to afford it.
She has not been the only one blessed by the new scheme. Four others have also been operated so far. Kaushik Hazra, an eight year old is among them. Admitted to hospital in a critical condition, the scheme came to the rescue of his parents who couldn’t have arranged the funds required for surgery, otherwise. Kaushik’s father, a taxi driver has a monthly income of 4,500 rupees only.
In future surgeries for other ailments like congenital cataract, cleft lips and cleft palates will also come under the Shishu Sathi scheme. Thanks to this pet project of the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, many parents will be relieved to see their ailing children embrace a new life with a smile.