‘Right to Health’ is the fundamental right of every child born irrespective of any barriers whatsoever. Paediatric Congenital Heart Disease has turned out to be a massive healthcare issue in the country and around the world at large. Sadly, it is the most rampant disease at birth in India with an incidence of 240,000 per annum. It is also a disease which goes unnoticed until it takes grave proportions and one of the costliest of medical affairs, that even if diagnosed, many aren’t able to afford it or even find access to specialists or hospitals that treats this.

With this backdrop, Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai, a humanitarian and philanthropist took it upon himself to establish the first paediatric cardiac hospital to treat congenital heart diseases, and setup the very first hospital in Nava Raipur Atal Nagar, Chhattisgarh in the year 2012 – the Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital for Child Heart Care, through the aegis of the Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust chaired by Dr C Sreenivas.

Subsequently, similar hospitals were set up in 2016 at Haryana (Baghola, Palwal) and in 2018 at Maharashtra (Kharghar, Navi Mumbai). The hospitals provide absolutely free of cost services saving thousands of lives, and rekindling the hope in humanity. These are the only paediatric cardiac hospitals without a cash counter.

Hospitals without cash counters in the service of children

Since its inception in 2012, around 22,000 interventions – both invasive and non-invasive (Cath interventions) have been performed across the three hospitals. The hospitals not only offer free treatment to the child but also provide accomodation and food to the parents without charging a single penny. Patients from across India and several developing countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Liberia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Kurdistan Region of Iraq, have been treated.

‘Maatruchaya’ is another initiative of Sanjeevani Hospitals, where mothers of the patients are trained to handle them soon after their procedures. ‘Mother’s love is equal to none’ and this helps the child to recover faster than usual.

Healthcare delivery is complete when treatment of disease is accompanied by understanding its causes. It is rightly said that ‘prevention is better than cure’ and the hospitals aim at finding the causes for Congenital Heart Diseases (CHDs) and eliminating them right from the roots. The Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital at Palwal established the Sathya Sai Research Foundation which houses India’s first exclusive genomic lab is dedicated to the study of Congenital Heart Diseases. It also has India’s largest Bio-Bank with over 3,000+ samples of patients.

Qualities of complete healthcare delivery

Rural Outreach

Recognising the importance of prevention and early detection in comprehensively addressing this national burden, the ‘Divine Mother and Child Health Program’ was launched bringing medical services to the door-steps of the beneficiaries. The outreach screening and referral programme focusses on preventive care for expecting mothers and children, and is based on the Government of India’s Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), and focusses on the 4Ds such as: Defects at birth, Deficiencies, Disease, and Developmental delays and disabilities. More than 200,000+ outreach screenings have been completed, and this programme ensures a healthy pregnancy thus promoting healthy childbirth in rural communities.

 

Education and Training

Academic, training and skill development programmes for doctors, nurses and allied healthcare providers are also provided, to enhance their skills and experience so they can become able instruments in the service of society. The programmes are also provided completely free of cost ranging from Nursing Training Programmes, Fellowship for Medical Professionals, Training in Paediatric Cardiac Skills, etc.

 

The Pandemic

Adhering to internationally recommended COVID-19 controls, Sanjeevani offered outpatient, surgical, and cath-lab services Totally Free of Cost. Initially, patients came as a trickle, and then in large numbers. Critical congenital heart surgeries are never easy and these times needed a different mindset and tenacity. More than 67,352 outpatients who came from 10,000 villages in India were managed, and 8,585 paediatric cardiac procedures were performed successfully between April 2020 and June 2022.

 

International Expansion

With a vision to embrace more children and to reduce the global burden of CHD, two more hospitals were established in the international shores – Suva, Fiji and Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai’s vision is to expand to more countries, and plans are underway to establish Sanjeevani hospitals which will provide free cardiac care in the underserved parts of Turkey and the United States of America.