India is the second most populous nation on earth. This means that India’s health problems are the world’s health problems. And by the numbers, these problems are staggering – 41 million cases of diabetes, nearly half the world’s blind population, and 60% of the world’s incidences of heart disease. But behind the numbers are human beings, and we believe that every human being has a right to high-quality healthcare.
The Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) is our 1,300-bed tertiary care hospital in Kochi, Kerala. Its doors opened in 1998 and as of December 2020, Amrita Hospital and the allied medical institutions of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math have provided completely free treatment to 5.1 million patients and subsidized care to another 300,000 patients—a total of ₹764 crore ($104 million US) in charitable medical care. AIMS has 12 superspecialty departments and 45 specialty departments and is recognized as one of the premier hospitals in South Asia. Also a teaching hospital, the Government of India in 2020 ranked AIMS the seventh best medical school in the country. Our new 2,000-bed hospital is under construction in Delhi-NCR.
Not everyone can make the trip to our hospital in Kochi. That’s why every year, AIMS conducts more than 100 free health camps in remote, impoverished areas. All treatment and medicines are given free of charge. Patients are also screened for serious diseases and referred to AIMS for further treatment when necessary. In 2010 alone, AIMS performed free cataract surgeries for 726 patients and 42 free cleft-palate surgeries for poor patients who were first identified as candidates for treatment in our medical camps.
AIMS runs five satellite charitable hospitals: three in Kerala, one in Mysore, and one in the Andaman Islands. The hospitals serve populations that would otherwise not have easy access to quality healthcare. All treatment is given free of charge. Out of deep concern for the indigenous population, the doctors also make rounds to remote tribal hamlets.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, we run a Community Care Center dedicated to helping people living with HIV and Aids.
A nearby government clinic provides anti-retroviral drugs, allowing our care center to focus on providing material and psychological support for people living with HIV and Aids, in a culture where the disease still carries a strong negative stigma.
Apart from quality healthcare, services include psychological, social and spiritual counseling, group therapy, home care, educational support for the children of people living with HIV and Aids, and vocational training.
An outpatient clinic, open daily, provides free medicines and medical treatment for the poor and is particularly geared toward supporting patients with HIV and Aids.
We provide family-oriented health education, run both rural and urban health centers, and train government-employed community health workers. We have trained hundreds of tribal villagers in basic nursing, enabling them to promote health and hygiene in their villages. We are also working to increase awareness of diabetes, promote preventive measures and providing free insulin for poor patients. Additionally, 100 free health camps are held every year.
AIMS operates a Mobile Telemedicine Unit, the size of a city bus, which brings sophisticated medical care to remote areas. The Mobile Telemedicine Unit was sent to Bihar by train to assist our flood-relief operations there in 2008. As of November 2011, the mobile unit has been used to treat more than 500,000 patients throughout India.
The AIMS Telemedicine Center is part of India’s Pan-African telemedicine network. Through this telemedicine network, AIMS offers specialized medical consultations to care centers and hospitals in rural areas throughout Africa and India.
Our volunteers in Kenya organize regular medical camps, with doctors going into impoverished areas and offering on-site medical examinations and treatment. So far, we’ve held six camps in the Kibera Slum, Machakos, Thika and out of our own Amrita Children’s Home. More than 2,200 patients have already been treated through these camps.
In May 2013, in collaboration with the Greater Lions Club of Nairobi, we brought a seven-member medical team from Spain to perform 208 free cataract surgeries for the poor at the Thika Hospital on the outskirts of Nairobi.
HOUSE CALLS FOR PAIN MANAGEMENT
Since 1999, our doctors have provided loving medical care and psychological support to impoverished patients with terminal diseases. Doctors visit patients in their homes, supply drugs, counsel the families and supervise nursing care. 75,000 patients are treated annually - all free of charge.
Since 1995, our Cancer Hospice in Mumbai has been providing free care and spiritual solace to patients suffering from terminal cancer. Separately, the hospice also provides free medicine, rice and other food items to the poor. Books are also regularly distributed to impoverished children.
When Daliya was born, she didn't cry like other babies. The doctors found a serious problem with her heart, which required immediate surgery for her to survive. The normal cost of a procedure like that in India is Rs. 250,000, or 5,000 USD -- an amount far out the reach of Daliya's father, with his job as an auto rickshaw driver. AIMS Hospital didn't charge Daliya's parents anything for the procedure. The surgery was successful, and kept Daliya alive, but her battle was far from over. She would need tremendous courage. Fortunately, she had it in spades.
for the Homeless
Parukutty is homeless. She sleeps on the streets of Cochin with her husband and child. We offered to provide a home for Parukutty and her family, and to help them find work. But they were reluctant to move away from familiar surroundings, and turned us down.
But when they learned that Parukutty had a congenital heart defect and needed open-heart surgery to survive, they came to Amma’s AIMS hospital and ask for help. AIMS performed the surgery – at a cost of more than $4,000 USD – without asking her for a single rupee. Today, her son has a smile on his face because his mom's heart is working just fine.