Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lifestyles of the poor and hungry

H/l: State's kids hit by heart disease

Intro: About 1,000 ages 5 to 10 children have heart ailments, while others have skin and eye disorders, says health department

Byline: Vrushali Lad

Slug: Special Report

Mumbai: The state's financially backward children can only blame their poverty and lack of overall health awareness for a staggering new truth: 979 school children aged five to 10 years have been found to have heart diseases.

The figures have come to light from a School Health Report 2007 compiled by the state's family welfare department. As per the 37,00,000 Below the Poverty Line (BPL) school students surveyed in the last year from July to October 2007, the department has identified heart diseases, anaemia, worm infestation, night blindness, otatis, scabies, skin problems, eye diseases and dental defects among the children.

Speaking to The Herald, deputy director of the family welfare department Dr Vithal Khanande said, "It is stunning but not surprising that such small children have heart problems and other diseases also. Of all the heart disease cases discovered, we found that the children suffered from congenital heart disorders caused by developmental problems, or in other cases, when fevers or other illnesses were not treated on time, it affected the child's heart.

There are also some cases with ventricular septal defects. However, it all boils down to these kids' lifestyles – not enough nutritional food, no prompt medical treatment and no awareness of most diseases by the parents."

The state's kids are also falling prey to anaemia (59,667 cases), worm infestation (1,59,138), night blindness (10,845), otatis (15,865), scabies (17,887), skin disorders (15,391), eye diseases (19,341) and dental defects (1,35,186). The figures in each district are then considered for free treatments under the Jeevandayi Arogya scheme, and wherever necessary, operations are conducted at government-designated hospitals and clinics free of cost, the public health department said.

A Rs 1,95,00,000 corpus has been set aside for treating these children, public health minister Dr Vimal Mundada told The Herald.

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