Archive for October, 2011
For D. Sathyavathi, who has been suffering from an acute stomach pain for the past three months, the Mobile Hospital of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust has come––literally––as the answer to her prayers. She had been in agony for months now, but unable to go to a doctor because her husband would say he couldn’t afford the costs and her mother-in-law refused to accompany her to the nearest hospital about 30 km away. But now medical aid is available in her own village, and a mere few feet from her hut!
Folding her hands worshipfully in the direction of Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s photo and the doctors sitting beside it at the makeshift camp of the mobile hospital, she says in Telugu: “Narakam choosanu. Kaani ippudu ee devullu naa daggarake vachcaaru. I endured hell. But now these gods have themselves come to me.”
Most patients have similar stories to tell. And their gratitude is understandable. In a country where quality medical care is unaffordable to most and worse, very hard to come by in rural areas, the Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital (SSSMH) is a godsend. The project which began in March, 2006 takes high-quality medical-aid to the doorsteps of villagers in remote rural areas, without charging any fees. The consultation, diagnostics, treatment and procedures are all totally free of cost as are the aids given out––spectacles, hearing aids, etc.
A unit of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, the SSSMH, is one of spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s several humanitarian mega-projects benefitting millions, yes millions of people, around the world. These include educational, medical and drinking-water projects.
The medical mission of Sri Sathya Sai Baba runs two massive and palatial super-speciality hospitals at Bangalore (333-bed) and Puttaparthi (230-bed) which offer state-of-the-art medical facilities in immaculately clean surroundings at Zero-Cost to the patient. It also runs two large general hospitals (at Bangalore and Puttaparthi again) also with free-of-cost-treatment policies. The OPD consultations at both super-hospitals total nearly 2.9 million (29 lakh). Besides, nearly 2.3 lakh medical procedures and surgeries (including highly advanced ones) have been performed here in hi-tech environments without charging any patient even one rupee. In fact, these hospitals function without a billing counter!
For all these reasons, the Sathya Sai hospitals are reckoned to be the only ones of their kind in the world in the private sector. Besides, the Sai mission helps devotees conduct medical camps in over 156 countries around the world where again all treatment is free of charge.
The mobile hospital statistics are very telling and yet another indicator of the staggering volume of good work being done––and very quietly at that––by the Sathya Sai Organisation. A total of 3,85,768 patients have been treated by the hospital on wheels at its camps as on March 2011! By now, the figure has reached nearly 4.25 lakh! The haematology investigations alone total about 90,000 so far. The number of X-rays and ultra-diagnostic test done so far for the rural patients is about 15,000 each. And the number of electrocardiograms totals 4,500 approx.
All the doctors are volunteers offering their services free of charge. They are drawn from a pool of 600 doctors from cities and towns of Andhra Pradesh. Explains Dr K. Narasimhan, Programme Director, SSSMH: “A typical camp will have 45 doctors from nine specialities. Every month, they work in three batches of 15 each.”
The doctors include specialists in general medicine, gynaecology, psychiatry, dentistry, ophthalmology, cardiology, dermatology, orthopedics, pediatrics, ENT, radiology, etc. They examine patients, administer medicines and perform medical procedures as needed. The doctors can also be seen patiently offering detailed advice on lifestyle changes including appropriate diet.
Diagnostics include X-rays, pap smears, ECG, ultrasound scans, biopsies, FNAC, etc. Spectacles and hearing-aids are donated to those who need them. Cases which require further or advanced treatment are referred to the full-fledged Sathya Sai Hospitals––the General Hospital in Puttaparthi and the two Super Speciality hospitals in Bangalore and Puttaparthi respectively. On a rare occasion, a patient would be referred to a government hospital.
The SSSMH spends 12 days of the month on tour in villages around Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh. The hospital sets up camp in a base village––from which around 25 percent of the patients come––and also treats patients who arrive from satellite villages (ie within a six-km radius) as well as rural areas further away.
Dr Narasimhan likes to point out that the camp has much more to it than diagnostic and curative features. It also looks into preventive medicine–an issue which does not get the attention it deserves in our country especially in the rural areas. On the evening before the camp, a session is held to educate the villagers on health and hygiene aspects. This increased health awareness has perhaps contributed to the decrease in the incidence of disease in the areas covered by the mobile hospital.
The team of doctors at SSSMH say modestly that this hospital is but one humble way of benefiting the most underprivileged sections of society that Swami has envisaged and which they are carrying out under His inspiration and guidance.
The astonishing scale and high quality of work being done by the Sathya Sai projects has for years drawn the attention of and praise from the who’s who of the world. The super-specialty hospitals and have had many high-profile visitors. Such is the credibility of the super-speciality hospitals and the admiration they evoke that doctors from the world’s most-respected medical institutes come here for a few days/weeks every year, entirely on a voluntary basis, to offer their services free of cost. Ask them why and they reply that they want to feel good about being part of such an amazing, philanthropic initiative for at least a brief period in their life. These include doctors from Harvard Medical School, Mayo Cinic, Cleveland Clinic, AIIMS, etc.
And now the SSSMH has students from the prestigious Cambridge School of Medicine wanting to join in! They will come in to receive training and clinical experience at this hospital on wheels. But then Sri Sathya Sai Baba has always said: “Do good, be good and see good. Don’t worry about how things will work out. Good work always attracts the right resources and support.” END OF ARTICLE.
**If a colour could define our experience of a country it would be blue for Mauritius. A pristine blue. In the skies, and waters––wherever we went it was this heavenly hue that we encountered.
**And at Le Tousserok Resort, we had great seaviews––from the entire stretch of the room, whether the Jacuzzi, bed or sitout all of which looked out on to the azure waters.
You can play tennis at its four floodlit courts. And there are facilities for badminton, archery, football, volleyball. A jogging partner is available on request! The resort arranges excursions, nature trails, and deer-stalking on request.
The Givenchy Spa is a slice of heaven. Whoever said no pain, no gain hadn’t heard of spas. The anti-jet-lag massage only few hours after getting off the flight, was just what the doctor would have ordered.
**For food, we had different options––Barlen’s, Three nine eight. And Safran. There were healthy options on the menu––sinlessly deliciously food for those on a diet or who are paranoid about piling on the calories while holidaying. The resort had its own private island where we dined one night. After taking in an exotic sunset.
**In Mauritius, Indians were everywhere. Actually, persons of Indian descent. From the aircraft crew to those on ground at the airport, to staff at the hotel and in stores. And since Indians cant go anywhere without taking their religion with them, we saw Ganesha and Shiva temples jostling for space beside Catholic churches. And ISKCON, Art of Living, Sathya Sai Baba organisations and the Brahmakumari one too.