On 23 November 1990, during his birthday discourse, Sri Sathya Sai Baba while talking about the inability of healthcare access to the poor declared within one year a tertiary care hospital will come up in the village of Puttaparthi, which will provide high-end care completely free to all the patients.
“There are few who are ready to set up such institutions to provide free facilities for the poor. Therefore, from the start we decided to set up a hundred-crore hospital near Prashanthi Nilayam itself. Even as higher education is free here, "Higher Medicine" also will be free. People spend some lakhs to get heart surgery done in the U.S. What is the plight of the poor? Who looks after them? If they go to the cities, they will not get even coloured water. Recognising this fact, we have launched this big hospital project. Whether it is heart bypass operation, or a kidney transplant, or a lung operation or brain surgery, everything will be done free. This has been decided upon from the very starting of the project."
Sathya Sai Baba
The first cardiothoracic operations were carried out successfully exactly one year later. Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the then Prime Minister of India, Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao, on 22 November 1991, inaugurated the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences.
Dr. Michael Nobel, great grand-nephew of Alfred Nobel, chairman, Appeal of Nobel Peace Laureates Foundation states, "The world's hospitals are filled with expensive and advanced medical technology. It is also easy to find free hospitals. But the combination of the two, of a super speciality, highly advanced, state-of-the-art hospital which is free for the poor—that is a unique, completely unique concept. And if we add to that Sai Baba's presence, and the spirituality which his presence lends to the hospital, it becomes a very unique creation. I know hospitals very well, but I have never seen anything like this on earth."
The Sri Sathya Sai Healthcare mission worldwide involves thousands of healthcare professionals who espouse His philosophy and work under His direction so that:
State-of-the-art healthcare is made available to all people irrespective of caste, class, creed, gender, religion or nationality totally free of charge
Economic considerations do not prevent anyone from receiving the highest benefits of healthcare
Healthcare is delivered with love and compassion
Healthcare includes treatment of the body, mind, and spirit
Prevention is a primary focus
NZ Sri Sathya Sai Organisation has run medicare services based on the same principles for more than ten years. Several medicare projects have been held in NZ before 2002 but some of these projects that have occurred after 2002 highlighted below.
Medical camps were held in Auckland every 3 to 4 months from mid 2002 until 2004. These camps were mainly in South Auckland areas, predominantly in Otara and Manukau but included some of the deprived areas in the North Shore . Click here to read the projects objectives prior to commencement.
The medical camps were a regular service activity focusing on primary preventative medicare delivered to the poorer communities in Auckland. They continued regularly until the PHO (Primary Health Organisation) system was introduced by the government in 2005 where all GP visits became heavily subsidized for the patients in the poorer or deprived areas of the community. Focus of medicare projects hence was changed to the poorer neighbouring island countries like Fiji. Below are links to some of the regional medical camp reports.
Free Medical camps have been carried out at Rongomai preschool. Types of cases treated were typically upper respiratory infections, skin disease and chronic disorders related to metabolic syndrome. Free diabetes and BP check ups were also provided.
In 1992, the Hutt Valley Centre identified the need for free medical clinic in the Hutt Valley area. With the assistance of three doctors who are Sai devotees, the free medical clinic was set up monthly in the Hutt Valley in four suburbs – Alicetown, Moera, Naenae and Wainuiomata. The clinics were rotated in these four areas each month. Two male doctors and one female doctor worked in these monthly clinics and the centre members provided admin help. The doctors provided medical check-up, diabetes check-up and gynaecological advice. The doctors not only treated the immediate illness, but also sent them to their GPs and the hospital for further treatment. Every six months the need for clinics at each location was evaluated and the Wainuiomata and Naenae Clinics operations were discontinued and two new clinics were started in Cannons Creek and Pomare.
In 1995, in an interview Swami advised the centre president that free medications needed to be given to patients in addition to free medical check-up. The Centre negotiated with the local pharmacies in these areas to provide free medications to the patients who took the prescriptions given by the Free Medical Clinic doctors. The centre later paid the pharmacy accounts.
With the advent of Primary Health Organisations (PHO’s) and Union Health facilities in 2005, subsidised medical care was available to the public. The centre undertook needs assessment in low socio-economic suburbs in Hutt Valley and identified that the community around Pomare could not afford to pay for the medical care. The centre negotiated with the Pomare Union Health to use their facility for free clinic on weekends. A monthly clinic was started with two doctors (one male psychiatrist and a female GP) who are Sai devotees, working on a weekend each month. This concept motivated the community and a nurse and the receptionist who lived locally who volunteered to help in the clinics. The Union Health staff is covering the admin work and the nursing duties. Information about the clinic is advertised monthly via the community news paper, pacific access radio and through social workers.
The Fiji Medical camps started back in 2006. The first camp was held in Viti Levu and comprised of a group of 26 volunteers. Since then the camps have also been held in Vanua Levu and the number of volunteers has risen to 63 in 2014.
Below are links to yearly reports, pictures, and videos
Between January 14th to 19th 2014, 9 volunteers from New Zealand took up the challenge to travel out of their comfort zones to serve the people who were badly affected by this typhoon in Leyte province through 6 medical camps. Below are links to the report and images from the camp.
Click on the links below to see the disaster relief guidelines and operations manual