A hundred percent Liberian-based non-governmental organization (NGO), the New Sight Eye Center (NSEC) on Saturday, August 4, over the weekend launched the first ophthalmic (eye care) training program in the country.
The concept behind the establishment of the program, according to Robert F. Dolo, NSEC’s Founder and Executive Director, is to increase the workforce in eye health, thus bridging the gap of human resource in the provision of eye healthcare in the country.
“Before we consider this idea, we established a link with the Fulbright specialist institution through the State Department (USA) to provide high standard education for our students. It is our hope to continue this collaboration every year,” Dolo, a cataract surgeon (an eye disease) said.
He informed the audience of influx of patients the team has seen as a result of the good work his entity has done over the last five years, and because of that, many other students developed interest to study in the filed of eye care.
According to Dolo, words like expanding the programs, infrastructure, and capacity development come to his mind whenever people talked about NSEC’s quality service in the profession.
“Quality is the fundamental value and our driving force at NSEC, because we are providing services to over 114,000 people, among them 4, 000 persons were operated on,” Dolo recalled.
He now looks forward to the government through the Ministry of Health for long-term sustainability of the program.
Mr. Dolo, therefore acknowledged the Board of Directors, partners of their contributions towards the entity.
Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh, who launched the program, called on the government to focus on investing in the human development of specialized medical practitioners, and in this case, ophthalmic nurses in the interim.
Bropleh said the prevalence of blindness in the country is estimated at 1 percent with an estimated total of 35, 000 blind people.
He described the disease cataract a major cause of blindness in the country, with an estimated backlog of 17,500 people or 5 percent of the total blind population.
He added that an additional 3 percent of the total population (10,500 people) suffers from visual impairment, according to the World Health Organization’s 2002 figures.
Dr. Bropleh said eye care should be enjoyed by individuals and families irrespective of race, religion, values and belief; thus, the need for creating knowledge and skills in ophthalmic nursing with the aim to equip medical students with pertinent knowledge, attitudes and skills required for promotion of eye health as well as the prevention and management of eye disorders at all levels of healthcare in the country.
“We must commit to training our health caregivers to become excellent and dependable ophthalmic practitioners to deliver the very best healthcare services that will be required of them, because healthcare personnel who are not trained in ophthalmic nursing or ophthalmology must not pretend that they possess such expertise. Doing so would create the effects leading to irreversible mistakes,” he said.
NSEC’s Board chairperson, Madam Dedeh H.F. Jones, said the entity adopted the vision 2020 agenda to start the center and the training program simultaneously. The vision is a global initiative that aims to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.
The launch of the program coincided with the sixth-anniversary celebration of the NSEC, and was graced by a representatives from the Ministry of Health and Judiciary, staffs of the institution and students as well as community leaders.