Modern eye center to be established soon

News Release | February 26, 2014

-As Pres. Sirleaf meets with Founder & Chairman of LV Prasad Eye Institute

LVPEI delegation meets with President Sirleaf during a courtesy call. Also present were JFK officials, Dr. Wvanne Mae Scott-McDonald and Dr. Billy Johnson

LVPEI delegation meets with President Sirleaf during a courtesy call. Also present were JFK officials, Dr. Wvanne Mae Scott-McDonald and Dr. Billy Johnson Gullapalli N. Rao and the partnership with the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) of Hyderabad, India, is well on course, and a modern ophthalmological center will soon be established in Liberia. Although the implementation of the program is long-term, the President indicated that she is pleased with the progress.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the comments when the Founder and Chairman of the Eye Institute paid her a courtesy call at her Foreign Ministry Office recently.

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.

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 that can reach all those in need, she had no doubt that a partnership with Liberia would lead to more satisfactory arrangements.

At the more recent meeting the Liberian President thanked Dr. Rao for honoring her invitation and welcomed him to Liberia.

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 eye system in place in any health facility, including the government’s referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Medical Center. He said the current situation is grossly suboptimal.

He promised that his Institute would, within 12 to 18 months, get a new modern eye center set up and running at the 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 will take responsibility of leading the effort to seek funding from international eye NGOs, eye care corporations, and philanthropic organizations to secure all the needed equipment that the center would need.

He said the LVPEI intends to help Liberia because, like India, a developing and post-conflict country, Liberia is saddled with enormous problems. Although the problems might seem colossal, he said Liberia has an edge because of its small population and that if the joint partnership project between the JFK Medical Center and LVPEI is structured and well implemented, much will be achieved.

Dr. Rao stressed that part of the partnership will entail training Liberians as well as putting the system in place and soliciting assistance from other non-governmental organizations. He praised President Sirleaf for her farsightedness and promised to make the partnership a reality.

Dr. Rao was accompanied, at the meeting, by Honorary Consul General Sachdeva; LVPEI Assistant Director for Administration, Public Relations and Fundraising, Mr. Sam Balasundaram; LVPEI Assistant Director for Project Planning and Implementation, Rajashekar Varda; and Senior Ophthalmologist associated with the program in Accra, Ghana, Dr. Wiafe Boateng.

Others at the meeting included the General Administrator of the JFK Medical Center, Dr. Wvannie Mae Scott-McDonald; and the Chief Medical Officer of the JFK Medical Center, Dr. Billy Johnson.

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; attended a workshop hosted by Sight Savers International; and toured Firestone-Liberia.