A team of Indian doctors are at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu on a free pediatric heart surgery mission.
The doctors are sponsored by the Catholic Church Spiritual Self Awareness Initiative.
It is expected that 22 children would benefit from the free open heart surgeries which lasts for eleven days on two surgeries per day.
The founder and chief executive of the Spiritual Self Awareness Initiative, Rev Fr. Charles Ogada, told reporters that the initiative was the first one by his organization and would be on two times every year.
He said the surgeries are 100 percent free for the affected children disclosing that there were over 50 of such cases in the cue.
Ogada assured that those who could not benefit in this first stanza would be taken care of in the next visit of the doctors.
Leader of the five Indian doctors, Dr. Shush Katewa, who said he had performed close to 5000 pediatric cardiac surgeries in the last ten years, said one of every 100 children born has a heart defect. Most of them, he said, occur in developing countries.
He said: “Most of these children die because they are not diagnosed. The incidence, however, is not prevalence in the developing countries. It is just one percent as in the developed world. The fact is that the number of children born in developing countries is higher than those born in the developed countries.
“This is where the issue of population control comes in. For example in Nigeria with a large population, about 67,000 children are born yearly with heart defects and less than 5 percent of that number is diagnosed.
“Most of the defects are congenital and attributable to when the mother is older. If the mother is older, the chances are that the child will be born with a heart disease,” he stressed.
“I have performed 5000 thousand pediatric cardiac surgery in the last ten years. I have performed these operations in India, Australia, Fiji, Cambodia and now Nigeria. This is my 12th year of medical mission.
“I feel that sense of satisfaction that I contribute to the pediatric surgery and there is also this opportunity in sharing knowledge with others from other countries.
“There are lots of challenges. One out of every 100 children born has a heart defect. Most of them occur in developing countries. Most of these children die because they are not diagnosed.”
He added: “The only way to solve the problem of occurrence is through population control as China did not more than one child for every couple. It worked for them. Nigeria should learn the lessons of China and India in population control. Most of the defects are congenital and attributable to when the mother is older.
“If the mother is older, the chances are that the child will be born with a heart disease. The cell coming from father is regenerated every 21 days. But in a woman the cells which contribute to the baby is death birth. So the cell being contributed by the woman is older and the child gets older. 25 to 35 is the ideal age of child bearing.
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“We have 11 operating days. Every day we have 2 to operate. We are expecting to achieve 20 or 21 patients. We hope to do more but considering the constraints in infrastructure it may be less.”