Rotary International has offered free heart surgery for 50 children in Seychelles under its ‘Gift of Life’ programme, the organisation’s president said on Tuesday.
Shekhar Mehta made the statement to reporters after meeting with Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House.
The Gift of Life Programme of Rotary International started in 1975 with the primary purpose of helping needy children who require corrective heart surgery to give them another lease on life.
Mehta, the first president of Rotary International to visit Seychelles in 53 years, said the children will undergo their operations in a city in India.
Seychelles offers free universal healthcare to its citizens and the government pays for overseas treatment for persons unable to receive treatment in local health care facilities. Although there is an increase in specialised treatment in the island nation, some procedures done by specialists are not available locally.

Shekhar Mehta met with Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Tuesday. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY 

The organisation will also provide surgeons to perform eye surgeries for those in need of the service in the island nation in the western Indian Ocean.
“The doctors will be able to come here to do cataract surgeries on children or adults. If this can be done then all the backlog can be taken care of,” he said.
Another assistance that Rotary International will provide to the health sector is training for Seychellois practitioners.
During his meeting with Ramkalawan, Mehta also said his organisation has offered audio-visual content to be used in schools so “children will not just study from the books, but will see and hear what they are studying.”
Mehta is in Seychelles as part of his worldwide visit as the President of Rotary International “to meet Rotarians in every country trying to inspire them to do more work and more humanitarian work.”
Before his meeting with Ramkalawan, Mehta planted a coco de mer plant in the famous Botanical Garden. The coco de mer, the world’s heaviest nut, is endemic to Seychelles and grows naturally on Praslin and Curieuse islands.
Mehta also revealed that Rotary International will undertake mangrove plantation initiatives in Seychelles.
Rotary is a worldwide organisation of more than 1.2 million businesses, professionals, and community leaders. There are over 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. The clubs are not affiliated with any religion or political parties and offer voluntary service and humanitarian support.
Seychelles with a population of almost 100,000 inhabitants has two Rotary Clubs and these are the Rotary Club of Victoria and Rotary Club of Victoria- Coco de mer.
The island nation is part of District 9220 along with five other countries: Mauritius, Reunion, Mayotte, Comoros, and Djibouti.

Source: Seychelles News Agency