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RPI trains eye technicians

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A non-governmental organization under the banner Refuge Place International (RPI) has concluded an eye care training program for 20 Good Vision Technicians (GVTs).

RPI aims to address access to quality affordable health care that impacts maternal and infant mortality among poor urban and rural dwellers in Liberia.

The 20 new GVTs were recruited by RPI Clinic as community health workers (CHW) in Chicken Soup Factory Community, Gardnersville Township and have since been working with that health facility.

Speaking at program marking closure of the first training cycle, the Program Manager of the National Eye Health Program at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Joseph L. Kerkula, lauded RPI for initiating the exercise, stating that the program is in the right direction for early detection.

Dr. Kerkula pointed out that blindness has got negative impact on the family and the society at large, as it gives rise to poverty, and as such, it must be tackled at an early stage.

“I think the step taken by Refugee Place International is in the right direction in the promotion of eye health. We need more clinical refractionists to help in addressing our eye problems,” he said.

“If we must bridge the acute shortage in eye health technicians, we need to start now by training more people, and this is why I said this step is in the right direction. We will need to strengthen human resource capacity in eye health so as to make some improvements in this area.”

Dr. Kerkula also stressed the need for motivation and deployment of eye health technicians/GVTs in rural parts of the country.

He also urged the GVTs to deliver quality service to their people as eye health remains cardinal health issue.

“There is a need for motivation and equitable deployment. This is key, if we must promote eye health. It has been realized that nearly all of the eye health technicians are just right within Montserrado, specifically, Monrovia too. We must make a change,” he added.

Also speaking at the occasion via mobile conversation, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RPI, Dr. Mosoka P. Fallah, said the vision is to screen 30,000 persons during the course of 2021.

“Eye problem is a serious issue and we want to tackle this mainly. Some of these minor eye problems need to be addressed at an early stage, because people who fall in this category could have been people that supposed to transform our society,” the former Director of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia noted.

“We want to mix screening with referral and basic care. We want to protect their eyes to live better lives. We want to make some extension to be able to provide surgical services for women,” he continued.

Like the guest speaker, Dr. Fallah also called on the newly trained GVTs to be passionate about the job they do because vision is critical.

“You must be able to give everyone access to good vision because vision is life,” he cautioned.

Mr. Thomas Remont, Executive Director of RPI, in an interview with this paper, vowed to execute the project plans that are on the plate of the organization to benefit Liberians.

Remont, a trained Optician, said he has brought new vision, different perspective and new ideas to implement the programs of RPI together with the staff on ground.

“I will be managing daily operations of RPI as well as finding new partners, developing new projects; we have idea to implement our agriculture projects, water projects, on top of the eye project, there is a clinic, and I will have to try to find grant for these projects. It will be a quite broad job to do,” explained the Frenchman, who also served as Executive Director of OneDollar Glasses in Burkina Faso.

Providing a statistical data, Madam Cecelia S. Howard, head of the Care Model Services division at the clinic, disclosed that since its establishment in 2014, the RPI clinic has treated 77,655 patients and carried out 2,024 deliveries without a single death, despite Liberia being the second country with the highest maternal mortality rate.

She recounted that the clinic has also been able to vaccinate 18,764 children and pregnant women through strong partnership with the Ministry of Health’s Immunization Program.

“Furthermore, we started a community health program in 2015. Through this, we recruited and trained general community health volunteers from our catchment community based on recommendation from the community leadership. Our catchment areas include: Bassa Town, Chicken Soup Factory and Gulf Community,” Madam Howard revealed. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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