Member Profile – Dr R Prem Sekar

From Left to Right: Annabel Lavielle - GHN, Dr Ravi Agarwal, Madras Medical Mission and Dr Prem Sekar - Kauvery Hospital
From Left to Right:
Annabel Lavielle – GHN, Dr Ravi Agarwal, Madras Medical Mission and Dr Prem Sekar – Kauvery Hospital

In our monthly newsletter we continue to seize on the opportunity to introduce you to other Global Heart Network members with the aim of helping facilitate communication, that will lead to   collaboration and cooperation amongst you all.

This month we are focusing on Dr.R.Prem Sekar   MBBS.,MRCPI (Paed)., FRCP (Glasg), Senior Consultant Paediatric Interventional Cardiologist at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai . Over the last 18 months we have been working closely with Dr Sekar exploring opportunities for increasing access to care for the underserved. We also had the opportunity to finally meet with him at the 11th Global Forum on Humanitarian Medicine in Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery at the Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland at the end of June.  Here is a photo of me with Dr Sekar, and Dr Agarwal, Senior Consultant Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon at the Madras Medical Mission, Chennai who will be featured in a future newsletter. It has been a privilege for us at GHN to work with both these magnificent human beings, who do so much for the underserved, and embrace the concept of a network, nationally and internationally to sustain and increase our efficiency and quality in cardiac care in low and middle income countries.

We interviewed Dr Sekar and this is what he has to say:

1.What do you feel are the biggest barriers to increasing access to cardiac care in your area?

As recently as in the previous decade, the proportion of children in India, growing up with undiagnosed cardiac problems was a significant number. This was attributed to factors such as the absence of a centralized newborn screening & reporting programs as well as the grossly deficient pediatric cardiac care delivery programs in the country. However, this decade has witnessed   tremendous growth in the number of pediatric cardiac centers, pediatric cardiologists and pediatric cardiac screening camps resulting in a significant decrease in the proportion of children with undiagnosed cardiac problems or late presentations.

The biggest barrier to access of cardiac care in southern Asia and India now is primarily the lack of financial affordability. This is because the majority of the patients are from economically challenged strata of the society and public hospitals with free pediatric cardiac programs are few in number and in some Asian countries totally absent. The predominant drivers of pediatric cardiac programs are the private sector hospitals with some form of public-private partnership where the subsidy offered by the government for cardiac procedures is insufficient.

Abdul Sudi Aged 4
Abdul Sudi Aged 4

2.What is the single biggest need your organization has in achieving its goals and mission?

The goal of Kauvery Paediatric Cardiac Care is to provide optimum cardiac care irrespective of the financial status of the child or of geographical boundaries.

The biggest need of our organization to achieve this goal and succeed in this mission is adequate funding for cardiac procedures.

3. What is your organization doing to make global access to cardiac care sustainable?

Towards supporting the cause of serving children with heart disease from financially underprivileged section of the community, the hospital has on 3rd August 2014, launched `SHINE@Kauvery’ – a save heart initiative for children. This is a sincere effort to instill hopes in the hearts of little ones who would grow up and shape the country`s future. The project`s primary objective is to provide partial financial assistance to children from underprivileged section of the society, irrespective of their place of origin in the world. Additionally, the project will also act as a platform for a Parent Support Group for parents of children who have undergone cardiac procedures at Kauvery Hospital, empowering them to help each other through interactions and to offer support to parents of children awaiting cardiac surgeries. The Corpus fund, gained through donations from kindhearted donors and charitable organizations, will be used for partial relief of financial needs for in-hospital procedures in deserving children and adults with birth defects of the heart.
4.Describe any collaborations your organization has had with other organizations or stake holders working in similar fields to your own? Has there been any limitations to your communication?

Have a Heart Foundation is a charitable trust based in Mumbai who work closely with Kauvery Paediatric Cardiac care supporting children needing open-heart surgeries with partial funding. Having their representative based in Chennai has ensured that there is no limitation in communications.

Women’s Welfare Syndicate Public Charitable Trust is a Non Governmental Organization based in Chennai who help by partially funding cardiac procedures as well as with advertisements in newspapers appealing for help on behalf of the needy children.

Collaboration with Global Heart Network has been the most promising as the ideologies of our organization and that of GHN appears to be matching. Global Heart Network has been a platform through which Kauvery Paediatric Cardiac Care could get international recognition and associations, the most prominent of them being Samahope. Samahope is a NGO based in San Fransisco, USA that works by identifying high impact but under-resourced caregivers and matches them with donors through crowd funding. After an introduction by GHN, Samahope representative visited Kauvery Hospital in April 2015 to evaluate the on-site facilities & needs. Kauvery Hospital was then identified as a High Impact center for interventional cardiac procedures in children with assurance of partial capital support from Samahope for children undergoing catheter based curative procedures in the heart such as device closures of ASD, VSD, PDA, balloon & stent angioplasties.   Despite being in different continents, the medium of internet has ensured there is no limitation in communication with GHN and Samahope.

5.How do you envision an online platform (like GHN) that aim to improve communication and collaboration amongst stakeholders being able to help you achieve your goals in your respective field?

An online platform like GHN with its network resources could not only open up access of global cardiac care to patients in this region, but could facilitate the reach of skillsets available in this region to the needy in the subcontinent, thus saving on huge costs as well as ensuring speedier intervention.

We remind readers of Global Heart Network’s mission to amplify change and increase patient access to cardiac care across the globe by  connecting independent efforts and initiatives to people in need. We have created an online platform, that acts as a portal for collaboration and communication to become a resource management tool serving professionals within the non-profit, philanthropic, government, and international development sectors, as well as medical personnel, volunteers and the patients. Join GHN Network today, or Contact us

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