NICVD Starts implanting pacemakers free of charge

The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) has started implanting free pacemakers for cardiac patients suffering from conditions such as bradycardia (a condition that slows an individual’s heart rate) and heart block, NICVD Executive Director Prof Nadeem Qamar told The News on Wednesday.

“This service is being offered to patients absolutely free of any charge since the start of this month. Pacemakers normally cost between Rs100,000 to Rs150,000, while an implant surgery costs around Rs10,000 to Rs15,000,” he said.

The NICVD administration recently started conducting free emergency angioplasties, also known as Primary PCIs, for heart attack patients after the Sindh government allocated an additional Rs380 million in the current fiscal budget.

A few months earlier, the NICVD also started implanting costly Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD) free of charge for patients whose lives may be in danger due to weakened heart muscles.

Prof Nadeem Qamar said the entire cost of implanting pacemakers to patients would be borne by the NICVD as “the provincial government is already providing billions of rupees to the state-of-the-art cardiovascular institutes for highly subsidised treatment of heart ailments”.

“We were earlier implanting 500 to 700 pacemakers in a year but after making it absolutely free for the patients, it is expected that we would be implanting 1,000 to 1,500 pacemakers in a year from now on.”

Prof Qamar said the pacemakers would be provided to every patient without any fee and the hospital would only receive money from those who would wish to pay the bills for the pacemaker implantation or having a surgery at the hospital.

He said there were a number of patients who afforded the full cost of their treatment at the NICVD. “These patients did not only pay their bills but also provide hefty sums as donations to the cardiac institute for the benefits of poor patients.”

According to him, pacemaker is an inevitable device in an institute for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases where hundreds of patients visit for treatment of their heart conditions like bradycardia and heart block. “Unfortunately, the majority of patients from the rural parts of Sindh cannot even afford this device to live a healthy life. Cardiologists from the rural Sindh have been putting a lot of pressure on the NICVD for free of charge implants of the pacemakers as there are scores of patients from different cities of Sindh who are living without pacemakers due to their inability to pay their cost,” Prof Qamar said.

To a query, he said from now onwards no patient would be turned back from the NICVD due to his or her inability to pay for the pacemaker. He hoped that the NICVD would be able to cater to the health needs of the majority of heart patients in the province.

It is worth mentioning here that the NICVD is extending its services to other areas of the city after it started placing ‘Pain-Management Centers’ established in containers. First such mobile centre is placed beneath the Gulshan Chowrangi flyover while.

The NICVD is also planning to place more such containers in other busy areas, including under the flyover of Quaidabad and Gulbai. Similarly, it has established one of its satellite centres in Larkana which is providing free of charge cardiology services to patients.

“Around 90 primary PCI procedures have so far been carried out at the NICVD’s satellite centre in Larkana since May 13 this year,” Prof Qamar added.

Source: The News International