Feb 132013


MANILA, Philippines—Thankful for the contribution of overseas Filipino workers in the growth of their business, a major healthcare company from the United Arab Emirates launched on Wednesday a P5-million campaign in Manila to save Filipino children with congenital heart defects (CHD) by funding their surgeries and treatment.

DM Healthcare LLC, through its charity foundation, launched the Save the Little Hearts Program, which aims to help 50 Filipino children with CHD have their surgery here or in India for free.

Annually, 20,000 children with CHD are born in the Philippines and one of out four of these patients die because they do not get medical treatment.

“Why come here in Manila? We want to give back to the people who helped us and to the country where they came from,” Padma Shri Dr. Azad Moopen, the founder of DM Healthcare, said during the launch at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati.

“This country and its people are very close to our hearts. Twenty percent of our staff is composed of Filipinos and they have given us excellent service for the past five years,” he said.

“As an employer of choice to thousands of Filipino staff at DM Healthcare, we wanted to give back to the community that is integral to our growth, success and quality,” Moopen added.

Moopen said the campaign would help children with CHD from the poorest families and those who have been in dire need of surgery. Those with “complex” cases would be taken to India for treatment in DM Healthcare hospital.

The campaign has also set up its official Facebook page and for each “like,” the Dr. Moopen’s Foundation would donate P100 to the fund to save Filipino children with CHD.

“This is our Valentine’s treat to little children who have problems with their hearts,” said Joyce Socao-Alumno, country representative of DM Healthcare Foundation.

Doctor Jonas del Rosario, a cardiologist at the Philippine General Hospital, said the campaign was timely because the congenital heart disease was the most common cause of death from a birth defect among Filipino children aged one and below.

“In the Philippines, 20,000 children will be born every year (or 1,600 every month or 55 a day) with a congenital heart defect,” Del Rosario said.

He said two out of eight children with CHD will be born with a critical heart disease that will need surgery or a catheter-based intervention during their first year of life.

“Approximately 5,000 new patients have to undergo heart surgery nationwide every year,” Del Rosario said.

However, he said the PGH only does 150 heart surgeries on charity a year; the Philippine Heart Center, 150; St. Like’s Medical Center, 15; Asian Hospital and Medical Center, six; and The Medical City, also six.

“Definitely, (this is) not enough to answer to the number of charity patients who need to be attended to,” Del Rosario said.

He said the “harsh reality” was that one of every three patients will need financial assistance, one out of four will die of complications because of non-intervention, and one out of five will become inoperable because of significant delay in treatment.

“Out of 5,000 charity cases who may need surgery in a year, only 500 can be operated on at the present set-up usually because of financial constraints,” he added.

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