Poverty and cardiac diseases

Tariq NoorMitral valve replacement is a cardiac surgical procedure to either repair or replace the mitral valve in the heart.  In the case of Tariq doctors opted for mitral valve replacement as repair of the mitral valve could not have been performed successfully in his case.

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including heart disease are on the rise across all strata of society in Pakistan.  Cardiac diseases requiring surgery are extremely expensive and most poor people cannot afford treatment.  They are frequently not aware of the disease and reach for care and treatment at an advanced stage of the ailment.

Tariq had been unwell for the past five years with pain in the chest and arm, recurring cough with blood sputum.  He spoke with such detail about his suffering, with so much depth of understanding about his illness and his struggle for life.  He had been seen by doctors in several hospitals in the Punjab from where he hails but was never able to pursue any treatment.  His health deteriorated and he was hospitalized in Lahore and tests/diagnostics revealed that he needed a mitral valve replacement and was referred to PIMS.

Tariq was a manual worker who was supposed to work 7-8 hours per day.  He gradually could not work more than 3 hours, which affected his income, he said.  The family sank deeper into debt, borrowing money, which accumulated into huge sums of loan to meet the cost of his treatment as well as basic expenses for his family of 7 of which he was the only earning member.

The family hailed from Jhang and migrated to the outskirts of Lahore in search of work and to escape poverty.  The family lived in a temporary hut in a slum settlement under the constant fear of being evicted at any time.  The sullied environment in which the family lived, has taken their toll on their physical, mental and moral health.  He stated that for years they have lived in a congested and airless dwelling.  He complained that the perpetual problems of contaminated water and lack of sewage exposed them to diseases.  Besides, his own ill health, his spouse has been bed ridden with gynecological complications after a still birth baby.  She used to work as a cleaner on a small salary.

Tariq’s long-term illness has driven him into chronic and long-term poverty.  He said that his life journey of twenty-seven years was devoid of hope for the future and was determined by poverty and ill health.  Tariq was indeed being robbed of a prime part of his life.  He was pale and lean; his down trodden eyes reflected the pain and suffering.  He added that he lives to fight another day but at times he has no strength to pick himself up.

The planned procedure of mitral valve replacement was prohibitively expensive for Tariq but was the only option to save his life.  A request for an estimated cost amounting to Rs.155,000 for a mitral valve CABG kit was submitted to Heartfile.  The support of Heartfile with your generosity has given a new lease of life to Tariq and has helped him to keep hope alive to start his life anew.


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