Vision 2020 Sri Lanka to be brought under College of Ophthalmologists
The decision to bring the Vision 2020 Sri Lanka Programme, currently functioning under the Ministry of Health, within the purview of the College of Ophthalmologists, was questioned this week by a group of activists representing the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients, private donors and NGO’S funding the programme.
According to the activists, the Ministry of Health had decided to bring the programme under the supervision of the College of Ophthalmologists; a private organization, presently functioning at the National Eye Hospital, Colombo.
Stressing that there is no valid reason to shift power of a fully fledged programme that is currently functioning successfully, they noted that the real motive as to why the Vision 2020 Sri Lanka Programme was being transferred from the Ministry of Health to a private institution remains unclear.
“How the funds have been utilized for the Vision 2020 programme remains very transparent to date as it comes under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. However, donors would think twice before wanting to fund the programme further if the programme were to be brought under the purview of a privately run organization. This is mainly due to doubts our private donors would have with regard to the transparency on how funds will be utilized in the future, ” said Prasanna Chandralal, representing the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients.
He pointed out that the decision to hand over the programme to the College of Ophthalmologists is being brought up at a time when the much needed Mobile Eye Care Unit acquired through raising public funds is now ready to be handed over to the Ministry of Health; to help facilitate the programme further. He also noted that the public has a right to know the direction in which the Vision 2020 Sri Lanka Programme is heading.
Vision 2020, which is the National Programme for Prevention of Avoidable Blindness in Sri Lanka, draws an annual fund of approximately Rs. 20 – 30 million through public funds and private donors and has managed to conduct more than 50, 000 cataract surgeries successfully for elderly and poor people suffering with avoidable blindness.
Representatives of the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients, a few donors and fund raisers of Vision 2020 addressing a news conference after news of the programme being brought under the College of Ophthalmologists came to light