Fiji’s health sector sees dawn of renewed progress

 
The event ended with a special cake cutting ceremony by the little patients and their mothers. Picture: VENIANA WILLY

By RIYA BHAGWAN

HEART disease ranks highest among the leading causes of child mortalities.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka confirmed this while speaking at the second anniversary celebrations of the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital at the civic centre auditorium in Suva last week.

More than a hundred cases of heart disease have been diagnosed through the Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Screening Centre alone and the staggering numbers are of great concern.

Reaffirming the government’s commitment to improve healthcare services in Fiji, Mr Rabuka expressed his gratitude to the founding trustees and directors of the hospital for their continued commitment in giving the region its first ever paediatric cardiac hospital, built on international standards.

“While government aims to provide quality, affordable and efficient health services for all, it (the hospital) is like a dream given our economic challenges,” Mr Rabuka said. “This hospital is an answer to the prayers of thousands of mothers and families.”

As of Monday, April 22, 2024, 277 little hearts were healed by 10 international visiting teams at the $25 million facility. This outlines the hospital’s successful journey in achieving its vision of becoming the premiere paediatric care facility for Fiji and the Pacific Island nations.

Director of the Sai Prema Foundation, Sumeet Tappoo, seated left, Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital director Dr. Krupali Tappoo, centre, listen as Dr. Shaun Shetty speaks to the guests. Picture: VENIANA WILLY

“Without the support of the Honourable Prime Minister, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister and the government, our ability to perform these life-saving surgeries would have been severely limited,” director for the Sai Prema Foundation, Sumeet Tappoo highlighted.

Speaking about the international visiting teams, Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital director Dr. Krupali Tappoo thanked local doctors and nurses for their support.

“We extend our heart-felt gratitude to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, staff of CWM, Labasa hospital and head of paediatric at CWM hospital Dr. Ilisapeci Vereti for supporting and working with the visiting team,” Dr. Krupali said.

The various initiatives by the Sai Prema Foundation have improved the lives of thousands of families across the region, including a state-of-the-art out-patient medical facility for mother and child care, a specialist children’s heart screening centre with 4D technology, and the specialist children’s heart hospital.

The non-profit charitable organisation established in 2016 has emerged as a leading NGO in Fiji providing free-of-cost services to families across the Pacific region.

A beacon of hope also aroused for adults in Fiji and the region as the Indian government stepped up to fulfil their promise of building a specialist hospital in Fiji. This came after Mr Rabuka confirmed the construction of a 100-bed care facility in Nasinu.

“I am confident that this will come to fruition very soon to increase access to life-saving cardiac surgery for adults in Fiji and the region,” Mr Rabuka remarked as he noted that the initiative was presented in cabinet recently by a

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka receives a token of appreciation from Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai. Picture: VENIANA WILLY

delegation from the Indian Government.

This hospital is part of the initiatives announced by Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at the third Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation Summit (FIPIC-III) held in Papua New Guinea in May last year.

Mr Rabuka also acknowledged the pivotal role of Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai, founder of the Sanjeevani hospitals worldwide, in spearheading humanitarian projects and other initiatives in Fiji, and thanked him for being the inspiration behind the establishment of the children’s hospital.

The Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital was inaugurated on April 27, 2022, housing modern equipment and a training centre with technological capabilities for video conferencing.

Since its inception, the hospital has hosted numerous international surgical teams. Notably, Dr. Shaun Shetty, a renowned paediatric cardio surgeon, has maintained a close affiliation with the hospital, leading several surgical teams, and being the first surgeon to perform at the hospital.

Present at the grand celebrations were beneficiaries of the hospital, Deputy Prime Minister Prof. Biman Prasad, the hospital’s surgical team, board members, foreign dignitaries and other members of the community.

The celebrations concluded with the Gift of Life ceremony, honouring the recipients of the life-saving surgeries and recognising the surgical team’s efforts. Emotions ran high at the auditorium as recipients shared their heart-felt journey with the audience.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka poses for a photo with the medical team from India. Picture: VENIANA WILLY

 

Riya Bhagwan is a second-year Journalism student and Veniana Willy is a third-year Journalism student and also a Photographer for the Wansolwara Editorial team.

 

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