President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Africa’s Health Sector Facing Challenges - Sirleaf
MONROVIA, November 2 (LINA) - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has acknowledged that while health care systems in most African countries, including Liberia, are on a path of recovery, “there are many challenges still remaining in improving those health facilities.
She observed that these challenges were equally facing people with disability, or blindness.
According to a dispatch, President Sirleaf made the statement recently in Durban, South Africa, where she delivered the keynote address at the 10th General Assembly of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
“We also face the high cost of equipment, which makes treatment a virtual impossibility, especially so for our low income and poorer citizens who cannot afford the resources to seek help abroad,” President Sirleaf told the gathering.
The Liberian leader said as a nation that is just recovering from 14 years of devastating civil war and two years of Ebola Virus disease outbreak, Liberia, in particular, lacks national plans to address eye health care problems in a “sustainable way, especially so since we face myriad of other development challenges that sometimes takes higher premiums over eye health.”
President Sirleaf told the gathering that they, as leaders of these countries, have come to the realization that providing eye care services to address visual impairments is an important dimension of the desire to build a comprehensive primary health care system.
The Liberian leader told delegates that, moreover, investment in eye health care services will contribute to growth and development by improving productivity and livelihood, restoring dignity of many who face the threat of visual disorders.
She said the Government of Liberia seeks public private-partnership with an organization like IAPB to stop and reverse the negative trend in the eye health care sub-sector.
She told her audience that the singular eye care resource that Liberia, in particular, has is located in Monrovia, the political capital city of Liberia which, according to her, “means that majority of our citizens are unable to have access to this facility.”
However, President Sirleaf noted that her administration was pleased with ongoing collaboration with local and international partners, such as Sight Savers, Lions International, and PREVAIL, a bilateral Liberian and American effort to provide comprehensive health care services, including conducting research and treatment for Ebola complications.
“In that regard, Liberia is exceptionally thankful for a partnership with the (LUV-PRASAD) Eye Institute (LUVPEI)) and I have been personally blessed with this partnership,” President Sirleaf told delegates in her addressed
“My second son developed a sight impediment immediately after graduation from college and in 1979, had to have a cornea transplant in the United States. This was followed many years later by efforts to transplant in India,’ President Sirleaf noted.
President Sirleaf although her son is still faced with sight impediment, he has been able to continue to function in a high level professional position.
President Sirleaf noted that her son was very lucky to have been taken to the Prasad Eye Institute in India where he met the founding Chairman, Dr. Gag Rao, who inquired more about the situation of blindness in Liberia.
President Sirleaf said after the treatment, Dr. Rao sent a team to Liberia and decided that the Institute would respond to such a national need.
“A few days ago, Dr. Rao and I inspected the modern facilities for eye care that has been established at our private rental referral hospital in the capital city, where a third of our population resides,” President Sirleaf noted.
She said Dr. Rao is also supporting a robust training program in that direction.
“You can imagine the joy that has filled our hearts as citizens. The People of Liberia thank you, Dr. Rao” President Sirleaf noted.