As I understand our country is one among those with the largest number of cardiac disease patients in the world, perhaps it could be the heart disease capital of the world. At the same time, we have made giant strides in the treatment of heart diseases which has resulted in the better health of a majority of our patients with serious heart diseases. The whole credit for this significant achievement goes to the hard work of the Cardiology community.
We have been able to improve the life expectancy of our cardiac patients. Simultaneously this has resulted in a surge in the number of patients with heart failure. I believe that in the near future, heart failure is going to be the major challenge for cardiologists as well as a serious Public Health Issue. Heart failure not only reduces the productivity of the people but also imposes a huge financial burden in the health sector. I am sure that the increasing recognition given to the importance of treating heart failure will lead to the development of heart failure societies around the world. To the best of my knowledge there are only two such large heart societies in India and SHFT is one among them.
Let me congratulate all the people behind this society for their enthusiasm, great effort and commitment to the care of heart failure patients. I have found a difference in this meeting which makes it quite unique among similar Cardiology meetings. This is a meeting attended by Cardiologists, Cardiac surgeons, Anesthetists and other paramedical health care providers engaged in the treatment of heart failure patients. It is a pleasure to see such a combined effort by doctors working in various streams of health care coming together to fight a lethal illness. The comraderie is definitely commendable and should set an example to the health care providers in the whole country.
The faculty of this conference includes the most experienced and knowledgeable doctors in Cardiology both from abroad and from various parts of the country. I am sure that this would be a great opportunity for young and enthusiastic doctors to gain wisdom from the stalwarts in this field. Let this inspire our doctors to work together with the most current scientific knowledge which can be translated into better patient care. It goes without saying that the prevention of heart failure is much more important than the treatment of heart failure which is difficult and expensive. I expect that you will utilize your resources for the prevention of heart failure which is very crucial for developing nations like us.
While stressing on the need for prevention, let me reiterate our government’s commitment to ensuring quality health care systems. We have intervened where vaccinations are necessary, brought more people under the cover of Urban Health Mission and efforts are on to build several new ESI dispensaries. It was only last week that we initiated a Lifestyle Disease Control Program. Our primary focus in that program is prevention of all lifestyle diseases, including cardiac diseases. At the end of five years, we propose to conduct a survey to evaluate the progress achieved through that program. I am sure that the SHFT also conducts evaluations of their programs.
Prevention is advocated to avoid the heavy physical and financial toil diseases have on the patients and their families. We are in the city of Kochi and it is in this very same city that the government has proposed a Regional Cancer Centre. As we are giving considerable attention to health care, I can authentically say that we are well aware of how expensive quality health care is. It is precisely why we wrote off some of the loans taken by our people for their health care expenditure, make budgetary allocations for those in the weaker sections inflicted by chronic diseases and proposed a new free health care scheme.
I have come to understand that the final treatment for certain end stage heart failure is heart transplantation. We have seen a tremendous improvement in the awareness of the need for organ transplantation, including heart transplantation, in the last decade in our country. I am very much pleased to know it was possible to conduct several successful heart transplantations in the same time period.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the surgeons of this country and their colleagues in this great achievement. I would like to express my personnel appreciations of the pioneering work in this field in India by the eminent surgeons on the dias, Dr. P. Venugopal and Dr. K.M. Cherian. It is the untiring effort by Dr. Jose Chacko Periappuram which lead to the rapid growth of acceptance for cardiac transplantation in our state. I am also proud that we have a vibrant public health care sector in our state, in which Dr. Jayakumar of Kottayam Medical college could perform successful cardiac transplantations.
It goes without saying, that donated organs are essential, without which organ transplantations cannot be possible. As you are all well aware, the rate at which organ donations are made is hardly enough to cater to the demand. Therefore, let me also encourage you to further your efforts in promoting mass awareness campaigns regarding organ donation.
Kerala is a state which is always enthusiastic and supportive of scientific knowledge. The knowledge developed through this conference, along with the discussions conducted and experiences shared should definitely be able to improve our health care delivery to the heart failure patients.
It is my honour and great privilege to officially inaugurate this programme. This is the season of Onam, the national festival of Kerala as well as Bakrid. Let me also take this opportunity to wish you all a prosperous Onam and a meaningful Bakrid.