11 February 2013

Rwanda: Global Eye Hospital Opens

Kigali — Dr. Agarwal's eye hospital, a globally renowned chain of eye care hospice based in India last week opened shop in Kigali in what is seen as a major medical care investment for the region.

The multi-storied facility located in Kigali's busy suburb of Remera about 4 km from the airport is estimated to have cost in the region of US$5million and is equipped with state of the art facilities not to be found anywhere in the greater lakes region, according to Rajagopalan S, the hospital's director.

Rwanda becomes the latest stop for Dr. Agarwal's chain of 57 hospitals located across India and Africa having started in 1957.

On the African continent, the hospital has branches in Nigeria and Mozambique as well as Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar.

The facility in Kigali which is expected to work as a regional referral for complicated eye cases in the region and beyond has the capacity of handling between ten to fifteen complicated eye surgeries in a day and targets over 2000 eye surgeries per year.

Eye diseases continue to wreck problems to thousands of Africans and due to lack of properly equipped hospitals and properly trained personnel to handle eye diseases, most patients have had to incur costs in thousands of dollars to travel abroad to countries including India and South Africa to get proper care, according to Dr. John Nkurikye the medical director of Dr. Agarwal's hospital Rwanda.

He explained that Rwanda has only 12 eye experts in a country of more than 10 million people.

Dr. Agarwal's eye hospitals across the globe reportedly screen over a million eye patients per year performing more than 200, 000 specialized surgeries to patients from all over the world.

"A facility in Rwanda means regional patients need not to spend a fortune to travel to India for specialized treatment as the same services offered there will be offered here in Kigali at a much less cost," explained Farooq Siddique the Business head at Dr. Agarwal's.

Among the special eye treatments on offer are the vitreo-retinal care services that experts say has hitherto been only possible in India or South Africa.

The hospital is equipped to carry out problem investigation, treatment and retinal surgery using modern and most advanced devices all in stock at the hospital.

The facility also has a pool of experienced experts numbering up to 350 and the capacity of housing 30 residential patients especially those travelling from out of Rwanda.

In a region that lacks the right expertise let alone equipment, Dr. Agwaral's eye hospital will also invest in training local and regional experts at different levels to boost its capacity to serve the region.

Officials told East African Business Week that they plan to open sub-branches in neighboring countries in the region to receive patients and do preliminary tests and treatment before referring serious cases that would require advanced handling to Kigali.

Unlike in India where a single surgery could cost a minimum of US$3000, charges will be lower at the Kigali regional referral putting in mind poverty levels among the people in the region.

"While we are a private company looking at making some profits, we will not turn away patients who can't afford our services, we shall help in any way we can."

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