Statistics available indicate that close to 7,000 children suffer congenital heart diseases every year in Ghana, with only 0.5 per cent chance of receiving treatment within two years after birth.
Out of the figure, only a quarter of the children live beyond five years Professor Frank Edwin, Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Health and Allied Sciences has disclosed.
Speaking at his inaugural lecture on "Your heart in their hands - decision points in Cardiothoracic Surgery," in Ho last Thursday, Prof. Edwin called for political priority to cardiovascular diseases care, to address the issue.
He called for the setting up of more institutions to train and retain more personnel in the cardiothoracic field, in addition to providing protection for those who need the care, as the way forward.
The Ghanaian Times is alarmed at the sheer numbers of children suffering from heart diseases in the country and the financial challenge patients face in search of cure.
We are concerned also that there are few facilities in the country as well as trained doctors to take care of heart disease patients.
In fact, inadequate manpower, poor infrastructure and lack of funding for cardiac care in the country are major challenges facing the country.
It is, therefore, not surprising that only 0.5 per cent of children suffering from congenital heart diseases have the chance of receiving treatment within two years after birth.
We are certain that the statistics above represent reported cases and it is possible that there are many cases that go unreported.
Besides, these figures represent those for children which may be far lower compared to that of adult patients.
Although we may not have the figures for the entire country, we may not be far from right that heart diseases are a major health problem in the country.
We say so because, there are many types of heart diseases that affect different parts of the organ and occur in different ways.
From congenital through coronary artery, heart diseases are treatable as well as reversible.
The experts insist that by attending to the risk factors like cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking, among others, heart diseases can be reversed.
We, therefore, urge the government to provide infrastructure and funding for cardiac care in the country.
We are aware of the facilities that have been provided at the world class Korle Bu Cardiothoracic Centre and appeal to the government to extend such facilities to other parts of the country so that patients, especially children can benefit from them.