Minneapolis, MN, USA - Over one million children are born with congenital heart disease (CHD) each year. When children with CHD receive timely treatment, 85% can survive into adulthood to live healthy, productive lives. Sadly, 90% of the children with CHD live in poor regions with little or no access to care. Congenital heart disease and other serious birth defects are among the top five causes of death of children worldwide.
In its new report, A Voice for the Invisible Child, and echoed in this week's The Lancet, Children's HeartLink calls for the needs of children with heart disease to be included in efforts to strengthen health systems around the word. Specifically, priorities must be made to build a pediatric cardiac workforce, collect data on CHD in national health surveys and cause of child death statistics, and finance health coverage in a way that protects families from impoverishment when they seek care.
Brian Atwood, former Administrator of USAID, urges leaders in global health and development: "Increasing access to pediatric cardiac care is a lofty but not insurmountable goal. It is an achievable goal, grounded in health system sustainability and equity. It will save children's lives."
Since the turn of the millennium, child deaths have been cut in half thanks to improved public health and poverty reduction efforts. It is predicted that the number will halve again by 2030. That is the year that the UN Sustainable Development Goals call for the world to end preventable child deaths. This target will not be met without addressing congenital heart disease. As the overall rate of child deaths decreases, the burden of children born with heart disease will become more apparent.
Established in 1969, Children's HeartLink is a Minnesota, USA-based nonprofit humanitarian organization currently working in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Ukraine and Vietnam. We partner with local institutions to strengthen health systems in order to develop pediatric cardiac centers of excellence. Children HeartLink's strategic vision includes developing 50 Centers of Excellence and reaching one million children with heart disease by 2030.