CHANDIGARH: In a bid to provide prompt and the best health care facilities to the children studying in Government Schools under the School Health Program on priority, Punjab government has tied up with renowned private hospitals Christian Medial College, Dayanand Medical College and Mohan Dai Oswal Charitable Hospital in Ludhiana besides Fortis, Silver Oaks & Ivy Hospital in Mohali for treatment of the children, who are suffering from life-threatening ailments like rheumatic and congenital heart disease (hole in the heart), cancer and thallasemia.
Disclosing this here today Director General School Education Kahan Singh Pannu said that this decision had been taken to include these prestigious hospitals on the panel apart from the already existing PGIMER Chandigarh because the heavy rush there prevented these school children for getting timely treatment.
The state government had also directed the three state Medical Colleges at Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot to undertake preliminary check-up of the identified school children and refer their cases for further treatment to private hospitals through Director of Health Services. Earlier, the process of preliminary check-ups along with was carried out at the PGI, which was the long and tedious procedure, resulting in huge backlog and endless waiting period.
As many as 1, 021 out of 1,493 children have been treated for the hole in heart, 87 out of 131 for cancer, 68 out of 84 for thallesemia, 1,771 out of 2,840 for polio/cerebral palsy/congenital deformities, 216 out of 244 cleft lip/palette. Likewise, 587 children afflicted with low vision and 2,224 with hearing impaired would be provided treatment in the medical camps being organized from December 5 and 11 respectively.
To expedite the process, Pannu has now asked the District Education Officers to send all children who were suspected to have some medical problem, to the medical colleges for quick diagnosis and immediate further treatment at private hospitals after referral. Efforts to get surgeries done at private hospitals have yielded encouraging results.
The department was now considering to involve more such hospitals to provide timely medical intervention to school children near their homes as to seek treatment for their wards from PGI was not only cumbersome but also time consuming.
For rehabilitation of children suffering from Polio and Cerebral Palsy, the department launched the Surgical Correction Project and has tied up with Christian Medical College and Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Charitable Hospital in Ludhiana, Amandeep Hospital in Amritsar and Oberoi Hospital in Jalandhar.
Surgeries of children with congenital deformities as well as CP and residual Polio cases were performed at these hospitals. After removal of plaster, long-term physiotherapy treatment was provided to the children. The program have been a huge success due to which 1, 771 children have discovered a new way of living by standing and walking on their own feet again.
To help all children with weak eyesight or vision problems, it has been directed to School Heads for taking all children suspected of having refractive error to the nearest PHC/CHC for further check-up and provision of spectacles on every Thursday, which has been dedicated as a day for check-up of the school children.
The department has also tied up with Sightsavers (an NGO) for proper diagnosis of children having extremely Low Vision, who could not read even with spectacles. These children would be provided the necessary assistive devices after their check-up and would be provided Large Print Books as per their requirement.
The Department has also planned Audiometry testing for hearing impaired children. After the test, the children would be provided state-of-the-art Behind The Ear (BTE) cordless digital type hearing aids totally free of cost so that they could make use of their residual hearing to live a normal life.
The Department had also launched a campaign for eradication of the cleft lip/palette condition among children. Under this campaign, the department tied-up with Smile Train (an NGO). As many as 244 children with clefts were identified out of which, 216 were operated successfully during the 6-week campaign period. Cleft lip deformity among existing children has been eradicated in Punjab with efforts of the education department and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan program.
After the children recovered from the surgical correction and were provided adequate speech therapy or physiotherapy, efforts were made to enroll them in a neighborhood school if they were not previously enrolled. Through this school health and surgical correction program launched by the Education department in collaboration with NRHM and various private hospitals and NGOs, many children have been given a new lease of life and many have discovered a new way of living, thus helping them become part of the mainstream education system and grow up to lead fruitful, meaningful lives.