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Totally free cardiac skills training will add to the pool of global talent

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With the recently inaugurated Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani International Centre in Kharghar, which is going to provide paeditaric cardiac surgery free of cost, Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust will also impart training to ASHA workers to provide the best of treatment to the needy. C Sreenivas, Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust reveals more in an interaction with Sanjiv Das

Recently, Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital opened a new facility in Kharghar (Navi Mumbai). What is its core objective?

The core objective is to holistically address the national burden of congenital heart disease by providing:

(a) High quality totally free of cost child heart care
(b) Ante natal screening and nutrition programme to reduce MMR, IMR and reduce number of children born with birth defects
(c) Child health screening programme for early detection and timely intervention
(d) Establish training centre for building capacity in paediatric cardiac skills which is scarce in our country.

How huge is India’s burden of congenital heart diseases in children? How is Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care in Navi Mumbai making a dent in this health issue?

As per Lancet Journal report, there are 300,000 children born every year in India with congenital heart disease. 25 per cent children die within first year of their birth due to inaccessibility, unaffordability and because they were not detected in time. The prevalence is close to 2.5 crore population living with congenital heart disease in India.

Sanjeevani Centre in Mumbai shall address this challenge by providing totally free high quality child heart care without any discrimination. Through its screening programme in rural areas, it will identify children at the right age and provide timely intervention. By providing totally free cardiac skills training, it will add to the pool of global talent in paediatric cardiac skills who can treat more patients across the world.

How do you pick your cases and ascertain its worthiness? How will you be able to sustain yourself in the long run?

All services provided in our centres from diagnostics to surgery including accommodation and diet are totally free irrespective of caste, religion, nationality and financial status. Majority of the patient families are from economically challenged background. Medical team assesses the urgency of the treatment and schedules the surgeries/interventions accordingly. The quality of work and the selflessness with which it is done, has garnered support from various sections of society in India and abroad, both from government and non-government institutions.

How is technology being implemented to improve the effectiveness and efficacy of your venture?

Our centre will be having a world class cath lab and operation theatres for providing high quality paediatric cardiac care. At Sai Sanjeevani, medical teams feel more empowered to take appropriate decisions for patient care without being bound by economic conditions of the patient. We also have introduced an advanced stethoscope in collaboration with HD Medical from the US, to screen children in rural Maharashtra for congenital heart disease.

There are two centres in Naya Raipur (Chattisgarh) and Palwal (Haryana) which are already operational. In which year were the two hospitals commissioned and how may surgeries are being conducted at both the centres currently?

The centre in Naya Raipur (Chhattisgarh) started in November 2012 and the centre in Palwal (Haryana) started in November 2016. Between these two centres, we perform 300 surgeries/cath interventions every month. From November 2012 to April 2019, we have managed over 80,000 outpatients and performed over 8,850 surgeries/cath interventions totally free of cost. These patients have come from 30 states in India and 10 developing countries.

How much was invested to set up the hospital in Navi Mumbai? What are the facilities that you offer?

We have invested over Rs 100 crore in the Navi Mumbai hospital. It shall have Department of Cardiology with advanced echo machine and cath lab, cardiac operation theatre, well equipped ICU, wards, canteen and free accommodation for patient attendants, Department of Mother and Child Heart Care for screening pregnant women and children and training centre.

The hospital in Navi Mumbai also houses a training in paediatric cardiac skills for ASHA workers? Is it being done as part of some tie-up with the government?

We shall be providing training to ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers honing their skills in ante natal care and screening children under the guidance of RBSK programme run by the government. Focus shall be to train them in identifying children with congenital heart disease. Government of Maharashtra has signed an MoU with our hospital to recognise us for providing training in paediatric cardiac skills, which is highly technical and much needed skill set to address this cause.

Legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar pledged to sponsor 34 surgeries. Any other celebrities/renowned figures who have ventured their support to the hospital?

Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has supported this cause of Sanjeevani and inaugurated India’s first paediatric cath lab in Palwal, Haryana centre.

What are your expansion plans and do you plan to open more centres in Maharashtra and other states?

Apart from Navi Mumbai, we are doing mother and child health programme in Yawatmal district. We have plans to open our fourth hospital in eastern part of India.

Does the government subsidise/sponsor any free surgeries?

Our hospitals are empanelled under Ayushman Bharat scheme of Government of India. For the patients who are covered under this scheme, we get reimbursed by the government as per the standard packages. Government of Chhattisgarh under its Chirayu Chhattisgarh scheme supported an operation theatre in our Raipur Hospital and also empanelled us under RBSK scheme. Government of Maharashtra has signed MOU with our hospital recognising us as a centre for child heart care in the state of Maharashtra.

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