Oct 9, 2010, Mumbai

" I have a task - To foster all mankind and ensure for all of them the lives lives full of bliss . ... I am attached to a work that 1 love ... To remove the sufferings of the poor and to grant them what they lack." -Sri Sathya Sai Baba-

The Medicare Conference "Healing with Love" - Healthcare for Rural India at their Doorstep, organised by the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation (Maharashtra & Goa) was held recently on Saturday, October 9th 2010 at the MEA club, Bandra-Kurla complex in Mumbai between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A brief details about the Public Health in India and about the objective of this Conference as well as the Role of Sathya Sai Organisation have been explained briefly below.

Public Health in India: Preamble

India has registered significant progress in improving life expectancy at birth, reducing mortality due to Malaria, as well as reducing infant and material mortality over the last few decades. In spite of the progress made, a high proportion of the population, especially in rural areas, continues to suffer and die from preventable diseases, pregnancy and child birth related complications as well as malnutrition.

In addition to old unresolved problems, the health system in the country is facing emerging threats and challenges. The rural public health care system in many states and regions is in an unsatisfactory state leading to pauperization of poor households due to expensive private sector health care. India is in the midst of an epidemiological and demographic transition - with the attendant problems of increased chronic disease burden and a decline in mortality and fertility rates leading to an ageing of the population. An estimated 5 million people in the country are living with HIV / AIDS, a threat which has the potential to undermine the health and developmental gains India has made since its independence.

Non-communicable diseases such as cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, blindness, and mental illness and tobacco use related illnesses have imposed the chronic diseases burden on the already overstretched health care system in the country. Premature morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases can be a major economic and human resource loss for India. The inequity is also reflected in the skewed availability of public resources between the advanced and less developed states.

The Players

The National Rural Health Mission was established in 2005 by the Government of India to address inequity in healthcare and facilitate bringing about dramatic improvement in the health system and the health status of the people, especially those who live in the rural areas of the country. The Mission is charged with providing

a) Universal access to equitable, affordable and quality health care which is accountable at the same time responsive to the needs of the people

b) Reduction of child and maternal deaths

c) Population stabilization including gender and demographic balance.

In addition to the mandate set by the Government of India for the central, state and local governments, several bilateral/multilateral development agencies such as the WHO, UNICEF, DFID, WB, UNDP to name a few, international foundations such as the BMGF and the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as a plethora of NGOs, individuals and organizations have undertaken systematic steps of varying sizes and scales to address different aspects of the Millennium Development Goals of September 2000, three of which directly address public health while the eighth goal focuses on a global partnership for development.

Role of the Sathya Sai Seva Organization

Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been working incessantly for more than half a century to bring about the joyous experience of compassion and love to mankind all over the world. While there are many hospitals, Sri Sathya Sai Baba believed that free healthcare, like free education and drinking water, is an inalienable right of every individual, irrespective of race, religion. caste, creed or economic status. With these noble ideals, the first Sathya Sai Hospital was established in PuttaparthL India in 1956.

During the last 50 years this has blossomed into a vast global system delivering free healthcare in many countries using the principles taught by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. These principles together provide a framework for the delivery of ideal healthcare. In addition to providing free education, free water supply and free healthcare, in the field of medicine. he has fundamentally redefined healthcare delivery by making services universally accessible and ensuring that state-of-the-art modern medicine is delivered with immense love, patience and compassion. Furthermore, health education and preventive care have been an essential component of this paradigm, involving thousands of healthcare professionals around the world who espouse His philosophy and work under His guidance.

Objectives of the Conference

The work ahead of each of us in changing the face of Indian healthcare from an access, cost, quality and equality standpoint is nothing short of mammoth; some may even call it impossible. Our goal in convening the brightest minds in Indian healthcare, policy. governance, technology, media and development. to name a few, is to initiate and then carry forward a dialogue that will help us to:

I) Identify and critically examine key issues and barriers that are common to all entities in this space

2) Understand the gaps between what is already being done and how much further we have to go, as a nation

3) List opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with existing national-level initiatives, wherever possible

4) Utilize our sizeable organizational resource base to engage with India's underserved, with the Ultimate goal of getting quality healthcare to the doorstep of rural India

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