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The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan

AKUH's Patient Behbud Society Signs Agreement with Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation

<p style="text-align: justify;">An agreement has been signed between the Aga Khan University Hospital’s (AKUH) Patient Behbud Society (PBS) and the Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation (PCHF) to make quality healthcare treatment available to children with congenital heart disease. Through this partnership, PCHF which works with children across Pakistan, will identify children in need of this specialized surgery and care and will help bear the cost of treatment along with AKUH’s PBS so that more children from low income families can access this life saving treatment. </p><p style="text-align: justify;">Former Pakistan cricket captain, Misbah ul Haq who is an ambassador for congenital heart disease, and cricket maestro Saeed Anwar were present at the signing ceremony. “I am very happy that we are all joining hands together for this cause that is so important,” says Misbah ul Haq. </p><p style="text-align: justify;">“Through this partnership, together we will do camps all over the country and do research together and advocate for this cause on a national level,” says Dr. Babar, AKUH Children’s Hospital Service Line Chief and paediatric cardiologist. “This is not a Western disease, the disease burden is highest in developing countries like ours.” </p><p style="text-align: justify;">Director of Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation, Farhan Ahmed says that this partnership will bring live saving treatment at the best healthcare facility in Pakistan to families across the country. “It is a matter of real prestige for us for our work to be recognised by AKUH. We want treatment of poor children to be at a facility and be given the best care that a child from an affluent family would get and through this, we are making this possible.” </p><p style="text-align: justify;">One of every 100 babies born has congenital heart disease (CHD), and 60,000 babies in Pakistan are born each year with CHD or what is commonly known as having a hole in their heart. Of these, about 20,000 die within the first month if nothing is done to treat them. CHD is one of the most common of all birth defects. 75% of all CHD problems can be corrected through surgery and babies with heart defects can go on to become adults living active, productive lives, yet if it goes untreated, the survival rate of such babies is low and if children with CHD are not treated, they remain unwell, underdeveloped, and have to make repeated hospital visits. AKUH has has a dedicated unit for congenital heart defects that includes paediatric cardiac anaesthetists, cardiologists, intensivist, surgeons, cardiac perfusionists (who operate the heart and lung machine during surgery) and physiotherapists, as well as specially trained nurses. </p><p style="text-align: justify;">Early CHD patients have very subtle symptoms, such as irregular breathing patterns, or immature growth,” says Dr. Babar. “Children with these conditions might appear smaller than others their age and not as strong.” But because of limited awareness and access to quality healthcare facilities, many patients are not diagnosed until they are older, making CHD complicated to treat. Each year, the congenital cardiac programme​ team at AKUH performs more than 400 paediatric cardiac procedures. Seventy per cent of CHD patients at the hospital come from families without financial means to afford the cost of outstanding surgical and medical care. </p><p style="text-align: justify;">After the signing ceremony Misbah ul Haq visited the paediatric wards, surprising and delighting those children who are undergoing treatment at AKUH.​</p>