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Healing hearts from Ethiopia


Filimon Berhanie was seven months old, when he was first taken ill. Hailing from Gonder, 400 kms away from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, Filimon was diagnosed to have multiple holes between the two main pumping chambers of the heart. Since there was no facility for treatment of paediatric heart ailment in his country, doctors at a hospital in the national capital of Addis Ababa referred him to a specialty hospital in South Africa.But his father, who was a soldier, could not afford the expensive treatment in South Africa and decided instead to come to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre in Kochi for advanced treatment.

Filimon, now fifteen years, is fully recovered from his cardiac ailment after undergoing a heart operation where seven holes were identified in his heart and successfully closed. He now looks forward to return home and pursue his studies to become an engineer.

“Filimon was among the 13 children from Ethiopia who were treated at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre for ailments like advanced rheumatic heart valve disease, congenital heart defects and spinal tumour,” said Dr. Krishna Kumar, head of the department of Pediatric Cardiology at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences.

This is the eighth batch of patients from Ethiopia, supported by American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The African continent still suffers from a very high burden of rheumatic and other forms of structural heart disease and unfortunately, there are very limited facilities to deal with such cases. Traditionally, Europe and US used to be the preferred destination for heart patients. But the cost of care in most of these countries is prohibitive, besides numerous logistic hurdles.

With India matching any advanced country in terms of healthcare facilities, both human and material resources, a lot of patients are coming to selected centres in India for treatment. Also, the cost of treatment in India is a fraction of any hospital in the Europe or the US.

Published March 22, 2015. By ANI Kochi
Copyrights © 2015 Business Standard Ltd

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