Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital – Transcending All Barriers of Affordability, Accessibility and Availability
A World Class Completely Free of Cost Compassionate Heart Care Facility for the Children of Fiji
Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Chain of Child Heart Care Hospitals has chosen to expand its footprint to the neediest populations of the planet and thus has worked hard to inaugurate the first-of-its-kind children’s heart hospital in Fiji. Under the leadership of Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai, the Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals have gained experience for a decade in the field of providing expert completely free of cost child heart care to thousands of children in India. With the confidence on its capability, and with the value of compassion at its very core, the healthcare mission in Fiji started with the establishment of a Non-Governmental Charitable Organisation – Sai Prema Foundation in August 2016. A three-phased plan, commencing with the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Medical Care Centre in April 2018, followed by Sri Sathya Sai Children’s Heart Screening Centre in April 2019, and now the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital, this mission has grown steadily with the determination to do more good.
The Hospital is a state-of-the-art 54-bedded facility spread across 21,000 sq. ft. At the centre of the Hospital is a giant red heart which perfectly describes all that the Hospital stands for—it is all about the heart, both physically and metaphorically. This is the largest project ever undertaken by a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in Fiji's history. The Hospital will fill the void of absolutely no access to paediatric cardiac service in the Pacific belt, and will save the families needing to take their children overseas for paediatric heart care, which costs in excess of FJD$100,000.
The dignitaries present at the event were – Mr Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama – Honourable Prime Minister of Fiji; Mrs Maria Voreqe Bainimarama – the PM’s wife; Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai – Social and Spiritual Leader; Mr Robert Bozzani – Philanthropist from South California who has supported many noble initiatives of Baba for several decades; Dr Shaun P Setty – Paediatric and Adult Cardiac Surgeon, who is also the Larry and Helen Hoag Foundation Endowed Chair in Paediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, Southern California; Mr Mahendra Tappoo – Chairman and Founding Trustee of Sai Prema Foundation; Mr Sumeet Tappoo – Director of Sai Prema Foundation and Mr C Sreenivas – Chairman of Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust. Dr Arvind Thiagarajan – CEO of HD Medical and Inventor of HD Steth; Mr Tony Greubel – US Chargé d’Affaires for the US Embassy of Fiji, and many other dignitaries from over 12 countries attended the event.
Mr Ajay Jain Bhutoria – Commissioner to US President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission for the Federal Government of the United States of America came to the event to bestow Sai Prema Foundation with an award from the California State Legislative Assembly, for its remarkable service in saving the lives of the children of Fiji. During the occasion, South Pacific Community and Sai Prema Foundation shared a joint collaboration for combined efforts on capacity building and research.
The Honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi joined the inauguration of the Hospital virtually and spoke thus: “I feel extremely happy to join you all on this august occasion of the inauguration of the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children's Heart Hospital in Suva, Fiji. My heartfelt gratitude to His Excellency the Prime Minister of Fiji, and the people of Fiji on this momentous occasion. This is yet another symbol of our long-standing mutual love. This is yet another chapter in the shared journey of India and Fiji.
I have been informed that this Children's Heart Hospital is the first of its kind, not only in Fiji but in the entire South Pacific region. In this region where congenital heart diseases are rampant and pose a huge challenge, this Hospital will become a medium through which thousands of children will be bestowed with a new life. I am extremely happy that this Hospital would not only provide world-class treatment but will also perform all surgeries completely free of all costs to each and every child. I hail and admire the Government of Fiji, the Sai Prema Foundation Fiji and the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Chain of Child Heart Care Hospitals in India.
Most importantly, on this auspicious and notable occasion, I offer my obeisance to Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The seed of ‘Service to Humanity’ that was sown by Baba in the hearts of people has today grown into a huge banyan tree reaching out to all the people in the form of several service activities. I have stated earlier too, that Sri Sathya Sai Baba has done the incredible task of freeing spirituality from ritualistic observances and redirecting it to working for the welfare of all. Till today, Sri Sathya Sai Baba's humongous contribution in the sectors of Education, Nutrition, Healthcare, His many service activities to reach out to the needy and the underserved, continue to inspire us.
We say ‘parōpakārāya satāṃ vibhūtayaḥ’, which means ‘Charity is the property of noble men’. The only purpose of our life and all the resources we have at our disposal should be to serve mankind and work for the welfare of all living beings. The true heritage of India and Fiji was built on this values.
In the past decades, India-Fiji relations have strengthened and grown in every field and with the cooperation of His Excellency the Prime Minister of Fiji, our relationship will be even stronger in the times to come. Incidentally, it is also the occasion of my dear friend, the Prime Minister of Fiji Mr Bainimarama's birthday. I wish him a very happy birthday.
Once again, I convey my best wishes to all the members associated with the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children's Heart Hospital. I am confident that this Hospital will become a strong establishment of service in Fiji and the entire pacific region and will take India-Fiji relations to a new height.”
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai delivered His message by saying: sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ। sarve santu nirāmayāḥ। sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu। mā kaścidduḥkha bhāgbhavet | – may all be happy, may all be free from illness, may all see what is auspicious, may no one suffer.
This is an old Indian prayer which prays for the whole world. It is our singular privilege to pray for the entire world on this very special day. It is special for two reasons – one is that it is the birthday of the Prime Minister of Fiji and we have been fortunate to celebrate it at least three times before, but for the time of the COVID-19 when we couldn’t come. The second reason is that it is the birthday of this Hospital, and I know the birth pangs that Sai Prema Foundation had to undergo to give birth to this beautiful Hospital. But all that labour of love was worth it for the South Pacific. My blessings and best wishes to all of them—they have pulled off this great feat of love—a miracle has manifested in front of our eyes. I want to congratulate all of them for the hard work that they have put in and to the devotees and followers of all the nations who have supported this noble cause to help the children of this nation and the nearby nations.
The statistics say that in this world approximately 1.3 million children are born with CHD. 9 out of 10 are born in poor countries. It is only a pity that 90% of them sooner or later die. In Fiji, this burden is much smaller since the population is smaller, but if we put all the pacific islands together, it is still a health burden. Human birth is a beautiful moment that everybody wants to celebrate—when a child is born in a family, it is the most auspicious moment. But it turns into a sad moment when the parents realise that the child is born with congenital heart disease, and though it is preventable or curable, they can’t do anything but see the child die, because of the financial barrier that does not allow them to treat the child. Whichever father or mother from whichever country—the pain to see their child die, is the same. Whichever child you are, your birth is equally precious to every other child.
Therefore, it is our vision to see to that education, health and nutrition are fundamental rights given to all the children of the world. I definitely don’t hope that children be born without any diseases. It may not be possible as there are natural laws governing health and childbirth. But definitely, we can create a world where every child has access to healthcare and no child is denied healthcare for want of money. This is the vision of Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Child Heart Care Hospitals, which is setting up paediatric heart care hospitals around the world and the first international chapter opens today in Fiji, for which we are very honoured. In another two days, surgeries will begin here with a very qualified team in place, from Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and the US. Last but not least—this is just the beginning of a long journey. We have miles to go! Sai Prema Foundation along with the Government of Fiji and the community has weaved a beautiful collaboration. Let us work, learn, and live together!
The Honourable Prime Minister of Fiji addressed the gathering by saying: “In 2016, Sai Prema Foundation asked my Government for a piece of land by presenting facts about the noble intention of their project. My Government facilitated that requirement. Back then, there was a critical need in Fiji for a specialised children’s hospital and today we have this institution. This hospital is performing life-saving procedures—the likes of which were never possible in Fiji and the entire South Pacific. 200 children are born every year with congenital heart disease in Fiji. If we consider the entire pacific region, this number skyrockets to 2,500 children. Most of these children do not reach adulthood.
They live a short life of immense pain. They leave behind grief-stricken parents and communities, the scars of which would last a lifetime.
Every child is a gift, a miracle in their own right, and a beacon of hope for their family and the country. I speak this from my own experience with six children and 19 beautiful grandchildren. Each child’s life deserves to be honoured and protected at all costs. As humans, we are all bound by an inner call to help and ease in some way, the burdens of our fellow brothers and sisters. Today we can see the awe-inspiring result of what becomes possible when we respond to that sacred call. This Hospital was born from the compassion and commitment of the Sai Global Federation of Foundations, which delivers humanitarian services the world over. Over the last three years, the Sai Prema Foundation has saved 25 million dollars—the single largest undertaking by an NGO in Fiji’s history. Sai Prema Foundation has brought specialised equipment and expertise from around the world. I have been passionately interested in this project. It is in fact an emotional moment for me that in three days’ time, life-saving heart surgeries will commence at this Hospital for the most vulnerable children.”
From April 30, 2022, to May 08, 2022, a team of 21 medical professionals including a few local medical professionals in Fiji, will commence the life-saving procedures by performing paediatric heart defect corrections on 30 children.