Heart hospital to open doors once border ban is lifted

British High Commission deputy High Commissioner Paul Welsh (middle) in discussion with Sai Prema Foundation Fiji director Sumeet Tappoo, and director of Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital, Dr Krupali Tappoo at Nasese, Suva last month. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The $25 million Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital in Nasese, Suva will open once COVID-19 border restrictions are lifted.

Sai Prema Foundation Fiji director Sumeet Tappoo said the pandemic had delayed work at the hospital. “We will have the building ready in the next six to eight weeks,” he said.

“We’ll then have to wait for the travel bubble to open to get overseas installers to install equipment.

“These are specialised equipment which can only be installed by overseas specialists.

“So we can’t open the hospital until the bubble opens.

“If it wasn’t for COVID, the hospital would have been ready.”

Mr Tappoo said the specialised hospital was the first of its kind in the South Pacific.

“This hospital is so important for the children of Fiji because there are no other children’s heart services available anywhere in the country.

“When a child is born with heart disease, parents don’t have the opportunity to treat their child unless they take the child overseas.

“The foundation, with the help of the Ministry of Health, the Government of Fiji and Sanjeevani Hospital in India, will soon open what will be South Pacific’s first children’s heart hospital.”

Mr Tappoo said all the services would be provided free of charge.

“The most amazing thing about this hospital is that there is no bill on the counter.

“Everything is totally free of charge — every surgery, every procedure will be free, all medications will be free of charge.

“One surgery costs close to $100,000 overseas. Tell me how many people here will be able to afford this.”

Mr Tappoo said he was personally aware of “some shocking stories” where children died because parents could not afford surgery.

“I encountered a single mother who earned $5000 a year.

“Her child was born with congenital heart disease and the mother told me that there is no way on Earth she could afford to spend $100,000 for surgery so she quit her job to stay home and watch her child die.

“These stories have really pained us. So this hospital, in partnership with Ministry of Health, will help such children and give them new life.

“This is the largest project by any NGO in the history of Fiji. There is no project done by NGOs worth $25 million.”

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