Over 58,000 Patients Benefit From Liberia Eye Center

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Over 58,000 patients have benefitted from the Liberia Eye Center, which caters to people who suffer from different eye complications, ranging from cataract, glaucoma, diabetic eye to infections, etc.

   This was disclosed by a doctor at the center, Dr. Unity Honey Dokie Fahn, on August 18, 2022 when the center celebrated its fifth anniversary. The program drew a huge attendance from stakeholders, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, beneficiaries, as well as the media.

   The Liberia Eye Center is the Indian-based LV Prasad Eye Institute’s collaborative center at the John F Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia. It was formally inaugurated by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on July 24, 2017.

    In attendance to commemorate the day were Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health; H.E. Pradip Kumar Yadav, Indian Ambassador to Liberia; H.E. Michael A. McCarthy, United States Ambassador to Liberia; Dr. Jerry F. Brown, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the JFK Medical Center; Nanborlor Singbeh, Secretary of the Liberian Senate who proxy for the Senate Pro-Tempore, Albert Chie, and Montserrado County Senator, Saah H. Joseph; Tony Hage, former President, Lions Club-Liberia Chapter; Upjit Singh Sachdeva (Jeety), former Indian Consul General in Liberia; and James Armah Massaquoi, Assistant Minister for Fiscal Affairs and Human Resource Development, Ministry of Education.

L-R: Dr. Niranjan Pehere, Head doctor of the Liberia Eye Center; Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva (Jeety), former Indian Consul General; Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health; H.E. Pradip Kumar Yadav, Indian Ambassador; H.E. Michael A. McCarthy, US Ambassador; and Dr. Jerry F. Brown, CEO of JFK Medical Center

    Making remarks, Jeety recalled how the office of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf called him in 2012 that her son, Charles Sirleaf, who was then Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), had some serious eye issues and wanted to send him for treatment to India.

   He said Charles was sent to India, where he spent over a month undergoing treatment. “When he came back, he was very happy with the level of professionalism, care and treatment he received there, requesting that an eye treatment center be brought to Liberia since none existed here at the time,” Jeety recalled.

   According to Jeety, the agreement for the LV Prasad to establish the eye center in Liberia was sealed when then President Sirleaf traveled to India in 2013, and in 2017 the Liberia Eye Center came to fruition.

   Jeety praised the Head Doctor at the Liberia Eye Center, Dr. Niranjan K. Pehere, for his enthusiasm in getting the job done. He said Dr. Pehere confided in him that he would love to work for Liberia for two to three years free of charge. “Not only that: During the COVID-19, when all the doctors were leaving because Dr. Rao had demanded that all the doctors go back to India because the sickness was very serious, and families back home were worried, Dr. Pehere came to me and said, ‘If I leave, the eye center collapses. Why don’t you talk to Dr. Rao for my stay?’ I talked to Dr. Rao and promised that, if Dr. Pehere gets infected, I will sleep with him in the ward until he recovers. And Dr. Rao heeded to my plea,” Jeety explained, thanking the entire medical team at the Liberia Eye Center.

   Dr. Unity Honey Dokie Fahn gave the audience an insight on the workings of the eye center in the years past. She noted that since the establishment of the center it has received a total number of 58,064 patients, with 36,674 paying for the service (some paid more and some paid less depending on their capacity), and 21,390 not paying. She said a total of 44,712 surgeries have been carried out, with 22,371 paying and 22,341 not paying.

   As it relates to the prospect of the eye center in the next five years, Dr. George Tamba Bornguoi said there is a great deal for expansion, which will allow them to achieve more, receive more patients and strengthen the health program. He said in the near-future the center stands to serve as resource center in the sub-region, where patients can come to receive premium treatment. He said it is their hope to train more Liberian ophthalmologists who will manage the center, displaying a picture of the proposed home of the Liberia Eye Center.

   The Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, who served as the Chief Guest of the anniversary, congratulated the LV Prasad Institute family and hoped that they are here to stay. She called on the Indian institution and their doctors to train Liberian doctors so that they are able to take over from them and cater to the health needs of their people. “Do not always give us fish; teach us how to fish so that we can know how to make life better on our own,” she admonished LV Prasad and other partners, borrowing the words of Romeo Taryor, who previously explained his story of transformation from a child soldier to a vision soldier.

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health

   Minister Jallah also hoped that the Liberia Eye Center will establish branches in all the fifteen counties of Liberia to ensure that everyone has access to eye care. “There are people providing glasses, others providing treatment, and we want LV Prasad to be the place where patients of the worst eye conditions can be transferred when smaller eye centers cannot handle,” Minister Jallah continued.

    She said they were happy for the achievements of the past five years, but were really looking forward to what the next five years will bring. “From what I see, I think it’s going to be ok, because it is said, ‘you can know how the Christmas will be from the eve’,” she noted.

   Indian Ambassador Pradip Yadav and US Ambassador, Michael McCarthy, in separate remarks, expressed delight in being part of the celebrations.

   Dr. Jerry F. Brown, CEO, JFK Medical Center, described the occasion as another historic day, congratulating the Liberia Eye Center for clocking five years. He pledged to work with the institute in providing the space to build its new home.

   Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao, Chairman-emeritus of LV Prasad Eye Institute, India, was also a part of the celebration via Zoom, and expressed how happy he was to see the level of impact the eye center is making in Liberia.

Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao, Chairman-emeritus of LV Prasad Eye Institute

   The Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Nanborlor Singbeh, who proxy for the Pro-Temp and Senator Saah Joseph, vowed to convey the good news to the Liberian Senate and push for budgetary allotment for the center, which is catering to the need of many Liberians.  

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