Maldives to screen newborns for heart defects

State-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) is set to begin screening newborn babies for congenital heart disease from Tuesday amid concerns of increasing heart defects among newborns in the Maldives.

Health ministry had expressed concern over an alarming increase in numbers after nearly 100 newborn babies was found to be suffering from various heart defects. The government had devised an action plan in a bid to stem the increase in accordance with the international convention on congenital heart disease.

A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart which is the most common type of birth defect. The defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart. They can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. The blood flow can slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, or be blocked completely.

IGMH said a nationwide training program had been conducted for health officials across the archipelago on screening newborn for heart defects before being released from hospital.

The hospital said it was making preparations to begin screening in health care facilities throughout the Maldives.