Valve replacement surgery made free

Kathmandu, January 29

The government has decided to provide free valve replacement surgery to all patients suffering from rheumatic heart disease.

Minister for Health Gagan Kumar Thapa has announced that all patients suffering from the ailment would get free valve replacement surgery from February 12 in government hospitals where such services are available. Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of rheumatic fever in which the heart valves are damaged.

Currently, Sahid Gangalal National Heart Centre, and Manmohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Centre have been providing valve replacement surgery. These hospitals have also been providing free valve replacement surgery to the children under 15. Every year, SGNHC provides valve replacement surgery to over 650 patients suffering from the ailment.

According to Minister Thapa, the MoH reimburses the treatment cost to hospitals which provide free valve replacement surgery. He said the government introduced the programme targeting youth aged between 15 and 35 years. He said the MoH has been working to expand the service in at least two hospitals outside the Valley.

“Free valve replacement surgery will come as a huge relief to patients from poor financial background,” said Dr Raamesh Koirala, a cardiac surgeon at SGNHC. He said hundreds of people die of the disease at an early age. Dr Koirala said over 1,000 patients suffering from rheumatic heart disease will be benefitted by the government programme every year.

According to doctors, a patient with rheumatic heart disease needs to spend between Rs 250,000 to Rs 3, 00000 for valve replacement surgery.

Dr Koirala said said rheumatic heart disease is the most common heart ailment in children and adolescents, especially in developing countries like Nepal. He said heart valve is damaged by a disease begins with a strep throat caused by bacteria called streptococcus.

The bacteria eventually, cause rheumatic fever and damages the heart valve in the long run.