|Free surgery for Tibetan children with congenital heart disease|
LHASA, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region will offer free surgery for more than 6,000 children with congenital heart diseases this year, according to a medical aid program launched in Lhasa Friday.
The aid program is aimed at treating patients aged from zero to 18, said Phubu Drolma, Tibet's health department chief, at the program's launching ceremony.
"We need to step up health checkups among Tibetan children, particularly those in remote rural and herding areas, and work out detailed plans for their treatment," he said.
The plateau region, with an average altitude of over 4,000 meters, has a much higher reported incidence of congenital heart disease than other parts of China.
"The incidence rate is 1.11 percent among newborn babies in Tibet, compared with 0.8 percent elsewhere in China," said Phubu Drolma.
With financial and technical assistance from China's interior regions, free heart surgery has cured more than 2,900 Tibetan children of the disease since 2008. Another 6,235 children are still waiting for the surgery, he said.
"The heart surgery is crucial in improving Tibetans' livelihoods and carrying out reforms in the medical sector," said Gyare Losang Tenzin, vice chairman of Tibet's regional government.
The surgery will be conducted at major hospitals in Tibet, including Lhasa, Xigaze, Shannan and Nyingchi, he said.
Meanwhile, medical specialists from big cities are expected to pair up with local doctors and offer them short-term training.