The Head of the Global Humanitarian Mission of Love and Service, Sadguru Madhusudan Sai;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Chairman of the Sai Prema Foundation, Mr. Mahendra Tappoo and Founding Trustee, Mrs. Maya Tappoo;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
In 2016, the Sai Prema Foundation asked my Government for the piece of land on which we gather here today. Presented with the facts and noble intention of this project, my Government facilitated that requirement.
We understood back then the critical need in Fiji for a specialised children’s hospital, a place where lifesaving procedures could be performed. Today we have such an institution. Experience has made its value clearer today than we could have imagined. It is indeed performing those lifesaving procedures—the likes of which have never been possible in Fiji, indeed, the entire South Pacific.
Approximately 200 children are born in Fiji every year with Congenital Heart Disease.
If we consider the entire Pacific region, that number skyrockets to 2,500 children. The devastating reality is that most of these precious children do not reach adulthood.
Without access to surgical intervention, most are doomed to live very short lives of immense suffering. They will leave behind grief-stricken parents, families and communities, and emotional scars that will last a lifetime.
That is a reality that the Fijian Government was not willing to accept. We would not stand by and do nothing, especially when compassionate and civic-minded Fijians presented us with a possible solution. Every child is an invaluable gift, a miracle in their own right and a beacon of hope for their families and country.
I speak, of course, from my own experience with six children, and nineteen beautiful grandchildren. Each life deserves to be honoured and protected at all costs.
As human beings, we are all bound by an inner call to help ease in some way the burdens of our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity. Today, we can look around us and see the awe-inspiring results of what becomes possible when we respond to that sacred call.
This Hospital was born from the compassion and commitment of the Sai Global Federation of Foundations which delivers humanitarian services the world over.
Over the last three years, the Sai Prema Foundation has steered this $25 Million development project – which I understand is the single largest ever undertaken by an NGO in Fiji’s history.
Despite the enormous challenges presented by a global pandemic, the Sai Prema team managed to bring in specialised equipment and technical expertise from around the world – the USA, Canada, Europe, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand to name just a few.
I have lost count of the number of times I dropped in unannounced at this site over the last couple of years to see how construction was progressing. I have been passionately interested in this project and was anxious to see it completed.
In the course of my visits, I saw first-hand the painstaking work that turned a dream into a reality. Suddenly, what once seemed impossible was not only possible, it is now standing before us.
To be honest, it is hard to not feel a bit emotional today. In just three days’ time, lifesaving heart surgery will finally commence on some of Fiji’s most vulnerable children, right here at the Sanjeevani Children’s Hospital.
As I have been informed, in just three days’ time, Fijian children whose lives are very much at risk will receive expert care from a team of paediatric cardiac specialists and surgeons, and other medical professionals.
In three days’ time, the Sai Prema Foundation will open the Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital’s state-of-the-art Cath Lab, Operating Theatre, Intensive Care Unit, and Pre-operative and Post-operative Wards and will start helping to save young lives.
And there is something else that is very important. The Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital also includes a Training Centre with technological capabilities for international Video Conferencing. This will ensure that Sanjeevani Hospital stays abreast of the latest advancements in paediatric medicine. It will ensure that the Sanjeevani Hospital is always learning, always growing, and always improving the quality of our care.
That guiding principles of your foundation’s founder, Sathya Sai Baba, are that true compassion and true public service must be complete compassion and complete service. This philosophy powerfully testifies to the equality and dignity of all human life.
Fijian children and Pacific children both will have access to this facility. And to complement this, I’m also proud to report that we are making excellent progress in making other life-saving surgeries, like open-heart surgery, available in Fiji for the first time through our public private partnership with Aspen Medical.
Today happens to be my birthday, and I can confidently say that I can’t imagine a more important gift than to be here with you, opening a gateway to a better life for hundreds—and eventually thousands—of children.
I want to extend this heartfelt gratitude to all members of the Sai Prema Foundation in Fiji, particularly Mr Mahen Tappoo and his wife, Maya Tappoo, as well as his son Sumeet Tappoo and daughter-in-law, Dr Krupali Tappoo, who will be the Director of the Hospital.
Vinaka vakalevu and God Bless.