Mumbai, Sep 18 India and Pakistan maybe daggers drawn on many issues, however one issue that is likely to win many friends include the treatment in India of 70 poor Pakistani children later this month for heart treatment.
This one gesture is likely to pave path towards many more similar gestures and result in a harmony between the two countries that politician on both sides of the border have failed to deliver in the last 50 years.
These young poor Pakistani heart patients will be operated upon by two surgeons and a cardiologist at Nanavati Hospital. The children - aged between five and 10 years - have been divided into four batches of 15-20 each. The first batch is expected to arrive by this month-end or by Oct 15.
The project was initiated by Pune-based philanthropic body Sadhu Vaswani Mission (SVM) in association with the Karachi-based Sindh Graduates Association. The mission has allocated Rs.150,000 per child, which would include hospital charges, travel fare and three weeks' stay for the child and the parents. The hospital too has considerably reduced its charges from over Rs.200,000 to around Rs.110,000 for such operations.
'The hospital will take care of a bit of their expenditure. They are all suffering from various forms of heart ailments,' said Nand Kumar, one of the cardiac surgeons with Nanavati Hospital who will be operating on the children.
Kumar, along with fellow cardiac surgeon Ashok Hishikar and cardiologist Jaipal Jadwani, visited Karachi Aug 26 and decided on the list of children who would visit India.
'We have our roots in Pakistan. We hope the relations between our two countries grow stronger by the day,' said Ram Mirchandani, a spokesperson and trustee with SVM.
'We hope to carry similar missions very often in the future. But it would depend on how successful this one turns out to be,' Mirchandani said.
These children are following the footsteps of Noor Fatima, a 30-month-old Pakistani girl who travelled by bus to India in July 2003 and underwent heart surgery at the Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore.
Her stay in India was marked by a groundswell of public sympathy for her treatment. For millions of ordinary Indians and Pakistanis she became a symbol of the growing bonhomie and warmth between the once warring nations.
Indian healthcare system today is far advanced than many countries and medical tourism is likely to be the big industry of the next decade, this gesture is also likely to give the Indian healthcare industry a boost in the International arena. Corporate hospital in India should take a cue from this and offer similar schemes. This will not only boost their image but also serve the poor in the world. A synergy worth pursuing.
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Where to go for medical tourism?
The countries where medical tourism is being actively promoted include Greece, South Africa, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. India is a recent entrant into medical tourism. According to a study by McKinsey and the Confederation of Indian Industry, medical tourism in India could become a $1 billion business by 2012.