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Dr Bharati Datta – 13 years of service to WPP

Dr Bharati Datta – 13 years of service to WPP


Dr Bharati Datta has been with the World Pediatric Project (WPP) since its launch in St Vincent and the Grenadines 13 years ago.

The diminutive lady, originally from India, has come into contact with each and every child that has been screened for treatment by the internationally {{more}}acclaimed programme, which was established to provide medical care for critically ill children in the developing world.

Datta recalls her introduction to the WPP, which was then called the International Children’s Hospital, in 2002.

“The Rotary Club (South) came to me and said we need a doctor to help with a young patient who was about to get a kidney transplant. So I assisted them with that and another patient, who had a retinal tumor that had to be fitted with prosthesis,” Datta recalls.

“Then I had a meeting with Susan, Keith Howard and Dr Timothy Providence and they said ‘I want you to be the person who would liaison with the IHC, just a few emails every day. I am still writing a few dozen mails every day, 13 years later and doing just about everything the children need. So, that’s how it all started.”

Datta, the head of Pediatrics at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, pointed out that the programme, now a collaboration between the WPP and the Ministry of Health here, is a very useful one, as it reaches out to parents and children who would not have been able to access the medical help they needed.

She added that without the WPP, many of the children who received assistance would not have been around today.

The organization has grown from strength to strength, and years ago incorporated the help of Jacqueline Browne-King, and recently Simon Carey to take the project forward.

Datta has nothing but praise for the medical practitioners who come to St Vincent and the Grenadines, the hub for the Eastern Caribbean, to give freely of their time and talent, to not only help the children, but also to impart their knowledge to the other doctors and medical students they encounter here.

She indicated that not only has she developed a great network, but she has also learned a lot from the visiting teams and has made it possible for others to gain knowledge as well.

“I’ve never seen a bunch of more genuine, talented and good, honest people who come down here. They are incredibly professional and they are incredibly giving and talented and they just ready to do anything. They come with one purpose and that’s to give and they’re excited about it.

“I learned a lot over the years from these guys. I have learned from the best.”

Currently there are six young Vincentians in the United States who have journeyed there for treatment.

Datta noted that the children, although foreigners, would receive the same health care treatment that any American would receive and that the surgeons and doctors and caregivers would not release the young patient until they are satisfied that the child is healthy and well enough to travel.

Over the years, the doctor has had memorable encounters with the youngsters and their parents, but indicated that her most memorable moment was when a particular newborn was sent overseas and she thought she had lost her precious cargo in transition.

“CW (name withheld) was born with a spinal problem. He got horribly sick and needed urgent medical care, because if he stayed here he would die.

“He had meningitis before he left, so we covered it with a sterile dressing and he and his mother were sent off, and she had to make stops, first in Barbados and her next stop was in Charlotte (North Carolina) and then to Richmond (Virginia).

“I got a call that same night from the doctor who was expecting that baby…. ‘B, where is the kid?’

“I could have died when I heard that; I thought CW was dead, because he needed surgery right away and I didn’t know which corner of the world he was in.

“It turned out that they missed the flight from Charlotte to Richmond, but fortunately, a good Samaritan was so kind to take them to her home and give them a place to stay for the night and brought them back to the airport and they were on their way to Richmond.

“That one phone call killed me, almost gave me a heart attack… but he is a healthy six-year-old now and is a happy little boy now. He has his problems, but he is happy.”

Datta made an appeal for parents and the corporate world to support the local initiatives of the WPP, which she said has now become a household name.

“If you have children, and if you know how it feels when your child gets sick, you want the best for your child and you want it now, and if it’s a complex problem you know what it does to you when you’re facing a doctor and he says this child needs a surgery and we cannot provide. But with WPP, I am able to say I can get it for you, I can make it possible for you.