Redefining Charity: Sathya Sai Hospitals


After identifying and describing a few necessary attributes of an ideal healthcare system, and developing a measure of how ideal a given healthcare system is using the 6P scoring system, the obvious question is: is it possible to implement an ideal healthcare system in the real world? The answer is a resounding “yes” – by redefining charity.

This post describes the Sathya Sai hospitals and healthcare systems as one example of an ideal healthcare system. It also explains why this healthcare system redefines charity.

Redefining charity

The Sathya Sai hospitals were founded by Sathya Sai Baba and is a unique hospital and healthcare system that practices all six principles of an ideal healthcare. Sathya Sai Baba had been emphasizing these principles over several decades. In addition to every patient experiencing the six principles of ideal healthcare, two observations stand out: There is no patient billing department and there are no fund raising activities – ever. Its function and performance are an impressive example of redefining charity.

Sathya Sai Baba founded the first hospital in 1956. This was a general hospital which has slowly grown to a 94-bed hospital at present. He then started two superspecialty hospitals, another general hospital and a mobile hospital that visits villages in Southern India. These hospitals offer the patient adult and pediatric primary care, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, urology, orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, dentistry, neurosurgery, neurology, neuroradiology, interventional neuroradiology, general radiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, social work and a full complement of laboratory, state-or-the-art diagnostic services and full dietary services. The patient never pays a single penny.

Our goal is for people to not suffer from ailments of any kind.
Regard this hospital as yours. It is not Mine. This exists for your sake.
Anyone can come to this hospital and seek relief free of any cost
and lead an ideal life thereafter. This is My benediction on all of you.

-Sathya Sai Baba, 1992


The hospitals have satellite based telemedicine for patient care before admission and after discharge care. The physicians and staff of these hospitals are all experts in their respective fields and there is a continuous flow of overseas faculty who work at the hospitals. Several residency programs are well established in the institutions and there is a nursing school. Every staff, faculty, resident, student, employee of these institutions are taught the importance of the six principles of ideal healthcare and a well-coordinated team manages every patient. The importance of family is recognized in the hospitals and every patient’s family member is given accommodation and meals in the hospital campus.

The most remarkable aspect of this healthcare system is that there is no patient billing department in any of its institutions. The institutions never engage in any fund raising or solicitation activities. There are no “donation” buttons to click in any of its websites.

A New Kind of Charity

This has set the standard for healthcare by redefining charity. Goodness never has to seek charity. Charity seeks goodness. When a good deed is being done and being done well and being done with commitment, compassion and excellence, funds seem to pour in to enable the continuation of these services. It seems that an ideal healthcare system is more effective in bringing in funds than fundraising activities in a less than ideal healthcare system. This redefines charity.

A peer-reviewed paper published in 2015 (Surg Neurol Int 07-Aug-2015;6:131) describes this model of healthcare in one of the departments of one of the superspecialty hospitals. Sathya Sai Baba’s principles of ideal healthcare have been so successful in their implementation and patient outcomes that teams of healthcare professionals have taken this message to over 33 countries outside India. In addition, this has further expanded to deliver prompt and long-term medical service for victims of natural disasters in several countries.


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