Proceedings from Sathya Sai International Medical Conference 2017
The Sathya Sai International Medical Conference on Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare and Sathya Sai Global Health Mission was held in Anaheim, California on September 2-3, 2017. About 400 delegates from 22 countries, including 150 young healthcare professionals, attended this two-day event in Anaheim, California, USA.
Dr. V. Sadanand, the emcee for day one, welcomed the gathering. Dr. Narendranath Reddy, Chairman, Prasanthi Council, the first speaker of the morning, pointed out that while most conferences focus on medical advances, improving work flow, and billing issues, this conference is unique as it is dedicated to understanding the fundamental principles of Sathya Sai Ideal healthcare, which are Comprehensive, Free, Universal, Compassionate and Preventive Healthcare. He elaborated on the life, message and legacy of Sathya Sai Baba, the founder of SSIO and several world-class educational and healthcare institutions founded by Him. Dr. Reddy quoted verse 6:9, Galatians, “Let us not lose our heart in doing good, for in due course of time we will reap, if we do not grow weary,” and exhorted the audience to persevere and continue to do good work together. His talk was followed by a summary video presentation on Sathya Sai Global Health Mission.
Dr. Christina Puchalski, Professor of Medicine, Founder and Director of George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health at The George Washington University School of Medicine, in her deeply moving and inspiring talk, focused on the critical need for creating more compassionate and whole person care, which transcends control of disease. She emphasized the integration of spirituality in medical practice.
The next speaker was Dr. V. Mohan, a leading diabetes specialist from India and trustee of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. He focused on preventive medicine and shared his vast experience in diabetes prevention and education. Dr. Mohan gave examples of how health education and simple behavior modifications have a profound impact on health and well-being. He emphasized that although diabetes is a growing epidemic, now is the time for action to educate the huge number of pre-diabetic patients worldwide and hopefully prevent progression of the diabetes epidemic.
Depression and mental illness is the second most common disorder in the world. Dr. Jyosthna Bhat, a clinical psychologist, emphasized the importance of recognizing early signs of mental illness and treating it.
Dr. William Martin, Dean of College of Public Health, Ohio State University, shared that chronic, non-communicable disease constitute 70% of the global burden of disease. One of the major contributing factors is indoor air pollution, especially in the developing world. A simple and effective solution is use of safe cooking devices.
Dr. Neelam Desai, Chief of Cardio Thoracic Vascular Surgery (CTVS), SSSIHMS, Puttaparthi, in an informative and inspiring talk, discussed how the Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare model is pioneering access to comprehensive, universal, compassionate, free and preventive healthcare in practice. She talked about how Sathya Sai Baba guided her in every step in developing the CTVS department.
The morning session concluded with three presentations given by Drs. Joe Phaneuf, Hari Conjeevaram, and Chandra Varadachari, sharing experiences from SSIO medical clinics/medical camps, humanitarian relief services following natural disasters and volunteering work in Sathya Sai medical institutions.
In the afternoon, Dr. Soumya Panchanathan, Associate Program Director, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Pediatrics Residency Program, talked about being instruments of Peace and agents for change. She emphasized that in clinical practice, one serves not only patients, but also their colleagues and support staff, and this is achieved through the practice of mindfulness.
The plenary session was followed by four concurrent workshops: 1. Spirituality in Medicine, 2. Compassionate Care and Personal Improvement, 3. Informatics and Telehealth, and 4. Preventive healthcare. The Young Healthcare Professionals also conducted 3 workshops concurrently, addressing their needs and challenges.
The afternoon program concluded with a panel discussion and Question & Answer session.
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The second day of the Sathya Sai International Medical Conference began with a beautiful interfaith music offering by Sathya Sai Young Adults. The morning session had a distinguished line up of speakers, starting with Dr. Mayur Narayan, Associate Professor of Surgery from Cornell Medical Center, who spoke about his experience in trauma surgery.
Dr. Anil Nanda, Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Louisiana State University, provided several examples of dedicated healthcare professionals from the history of medicine, including William Osler, Hippocrates, and Florence Nightingale. He gave examples of uncertainties in medical practice which teach humility, “Je le pansai, dieu le guerit (I did the dressing, God did the healing).” He emphasized that there is a danger in blindly accepting the status quo in medicine and great strides in the history of medicine were often made by those who went against the conventional thinking of the day.
Then, Dr. Meera Narasimhan gave an informative presentation on mental health in the context of Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare. Dr. Brahma Sharma talked about meditation for healthy living. Dr. Juglans Alvarez, a cardiac surgeon, shared how he practises ideal healthcare, inspired and guided by Sathya Sai Baba. Dr. Kathir Nadanachandran recounted experiences in performing free neurosurgical surgeries in Fiji.
A beautiful exhibition was viewed by the conference delegates, who were inspired and motivated by reports of medical services being rendered worldwide. The colourful, 76-poster display covered multi-faceted healthcare services offered by the Sathya Sai Organisations in India and in all continents around the globe, except Antarctica. Videos were shown about medical camps, clinics and humanitarian relief activities after natural disasters.
The last session in the morning was about global medical services. Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Chair of Pulmonary Critical Care, Baylor College of Medicine, described her experiences in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey which recently overwhelmed Houston, Texas. Dr. Rajat Gyaneshwar from Fiji elaborated on providing health services in remote rural areas specifically for women and children, including mobile clinic services and preventive medical education in Fiji. Dr. Anupom Ganguli, Co-Chair of the Environmental Committee of the SSIO focused on environmental impacts on human health and SSIO initiatives in this area. Sai Balasubramanian, a medical student, outlined the need to transform healthcare from a commodity to a loving duty.
The afternoon sessions included interactive workshops on medical clinics, mental healthcare, medical camps and humanitarian relief, and management of physician burnout. Young adults held a workshop on balancing professional and personal responsibilities.
The conference concluded with a panel discussion, concluding remarks by Dr. Narendranath Reddy, and a beautiful musical presentation by young adults.