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Times Of India
30 October 2012
Pune, India

Around 1,500 school students in the state underwent heart surgery during 2011–12, almost double the number recorded in 2010–11. Majority of these surgeries were to correct congenital heart diseases such as hole in the heart, irregular blood flow, etc.

These students had been examined under the school health programme, which is run across the state in zilla parishad, residential, aided and non–aided schools, as also schools for the physically challenged.

"The programme was launched under the National Rural Health Mission across the country in 2008–09 academic year. Initially, the diagnosis was not accurate. But, with time, it has been possible to diagnose the diseases in children accurately. That probably is the reason why the number is increasing each year," said Vinayak More, co–ordinator of the programme.

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Since 2008–09, more than 5,000 school students have undergone heart surgery and over 15,000 went under the surgeon’s knife for other major ailments, according to a report prepared by the state health department. The main causes for surgeries included hernia, appendix, ear, nose, eye and dental problems.

In 2008–09, 1,053 students underwent heart surgery while 995 heart operations were carried out in 2009–10, followed by 1,422 in 2010–11, and 1,597 in 2011–12. More said, "Majority of these cases were of congenital heart diseases. A negligible number of cases needed surgical intervention due to lifestyle disorders."

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In rural areas, the school health programme is carried out for students of std I to X. In urban areas, the programme is carried out for students of std I to IV. In 2011–12, close to 101.83 lakh students in the state underwent medical examination under the programme, out of which 16.45 lakh were treated for various medical problems.

Surekha Unavane, medical officer responsible for Pune district, said: "Since the programme was launched four years ago, close to 200 heart surgeries have taken place in the district. Mostly, they were for correction of congenital defects. Over 1,000 other major surgeries also took place in the district. These were related to disorders like hernia, appendicitis, kidney disorder, etc."

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