President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf revealed that a modern ophthalmological center is to be established in the country. This center would bring relief to Liberians who have eye complications. The President said although the implementation of the program is long-term, she is pleased with the progress made so far.
President Sirleaf made the comments when the Founder and Chairman of LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) of Hyderabad, India, Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao, paid her a courtesy call at her Foreign Ministry Office recently.
She noted that the visit of Dr. Rao and the partnership with the LVPEI is well on course. The Eye Institute’s boss’ visit to Liberia is as a result of an earlier visit by President Sirleaf last year to India where she invited investors and business owners to come to Liberia and invest.
During her visit to India last September, President Sirleaf formally launched the Liberia Eye Health Initiative at the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI). The Institute is a comprehensive eye health facility with its flagship campus in Hyderabad, leading a network of 100 tertiary, secondary and primary care centers across India.
Addressing a lecture series marking the Eye Institute’s Silver Jubilee celebration on the topic of “Health Care in a Transitioning Democracy: The Case of Liberia,” President Sirleaf said that because of the Institute’s vision to create excellent and equitable eye care systems to reach all those in need, she had no doubt that a partnership with Liberia would lead to more satisfactory arrangements.
At last week meeting in Monrovia the Liberian President thanked Dr. Rao for honoring her invitation and welcomed him to Liberia.
Dr. Rao was in Liberia on an assessment visit, at the invitation of the Liberian leader and the Honorary Consul General of India to Liberia, Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva.
Speaking earlier, Dr. Rao informed the President that from his assessment of the health system in Liberia, there’s a need to build a robust eye care service as there is no system or health facility in place; including at the government’s referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Medical Center. He described the current situation as an unacceptable one.
He promised that his Institute would, within 12 to 18 months, get a new modern eye center up and running at JFK Medical Center. “Given this and the absence of any other facility with basic minimum standards of care, it is critical to build this service in an expeditious manner,” Dr. Rao said.
Dr. Rao said the LVPEI would take responsibility for leading the effort to seek funding from international eye NGOs, eye care corporations, and philanthropic organizations to secure all the needed equipment.
He said the LVPEI intends to help Liberia because, like India, a developing country, Liberia is saddled with enormous problems.
“Although the problems might seem colossal,” he said, “Liberia has an edge because of its small population.” Dr. Rao believed if the joint partnership project between the JFK Medical Center and LVPEI is structured and well implemented, much could be achieved.
He stressed that part of the partnership would entail training Liberians and putting the system in place while soliciting assistance from other non-governmental organizations. He praised President Sirleaf for her foresight and promised to make the partnership a reality.
During his stay in Liberia, Dr. Rao and his team also held meetings with the Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Gwenigale; JFK administrators and ophthalmologists, NGOs, the Representative of the World Health Organization, and Lions Clubs Executives. He also visited the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine; where he attended a workshop hosted by Sight Savers International.