24th February 2011, www.dailynews.lk, By Chaminda Perera
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday opened the country’s first eye bank at the National Eye Hospital premises. The Lee Foundation of Singapore, National Eye Centre and the National Eye Bank of Singapore provided financial and technical assistance for this project.
President Rajapaksa inspected the Eye Bank and inquired after the health of the patients receiving treatment at the Eye Hospital. President Rajapaksa presented a special memento to National Eye Centre, Singapore, Director Prof Donald Tan in recognition of his service to uplift the health sector in Sri Lanka.
The National Eye Bank will provide high quality cornea to Sri Lankans who undergo cornea transplant. Corneas would be taken from the eyes of dead persons at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka which is close to the Eye Bank with the consent of their kith and kin.
This eye bank will also provide corneas to other countries specially in the Asian region.
The Lee Foundation spent Rs 30 million for the project initially and it will provide US $ 5 million to upgrade the facilities in the bank within the next five years.
Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Maitripala Sirisena said that Sri Lanka will achieve tremendous development in the field of cornea transplant and eye care in the years to come.
He expressed gratitude to the Singaporean Government for providing technical and financial assistance for the project.
The Minister focused on the proper management of enormous physical and human resources in the health sector.
“Our health sector has enormous resources and they should be manged in a proper way that could provide a speedier service to the patients,” he added.
He commended the services of National Eye Hospital and its staff. The Minister was of the view that patients in a number of developed countries have to be in the waiting list for long durations for cornea transplant and eye surgeries unlike in Sri Lanka.
National Eye Centre, Singapore Director Prof Donald Tang said Sri Lanka was a major cornea provider to the world.
He said that his country desparately needed corneas in 1964 and Sri Lanka came forward and provided corneas to his country at that time.
Prof Tang added Singapore will forever remember this magnanimous gesture of Sri Lankans who had always been generous.
Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake, Ministry Secretary Dr Ravindara Ruberu, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Secretariat Gamini Senarath, Eye Hospital Director Dr S Liyanage and Parliamentarian Thilanga Sumathipala were present.