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A road show with the theme “Invest in Ethiopia Knowledge Series” was held successfully in three Indian cities; Pune, Bangalore and Chennai from December 15 to 20, Overseas Infrastructure Alliance Private Limited said.
The road show, organized by OIA was perhaps the first of its kind driven by a single African country, said OIA representatives at a press conference held at the Hilton Hotel on Friday, January 9. The road show headed by Gennet Zewdie, Ethiopian Ambassador to India was aimed at promoting Ethiopia to potential investors in India.
“This is a reflection of collaboration and working for mutual benefit which will eventually strengthen the relationship of our two countries,” said Gennet Zewdie, in a letter of appreciation to OIA.
“We got a good response from potential investors. We have also received good response from those that have already invested in the country and they have shared their positive experiences with the potential investors,” stated Vinod Deokar, General Manager of OIA.
According to Gennet Zewdie, the participation of several companies and the lively discussions and meetings during the road show has contributed to the success of the event.
“Our next step will be to take a business delegation to Ethiopia for pre-investment study visit,” she had said.
Partners need to play their parts for a successful eye care center, says OIA
On a different note, “Why is the government neglecting the OIA India Eye Care Center” is a question that needs to be asked, stated OIA at the press conference.
Regarding recent news circulating in local media about alleged malpractices and corruption at the eye center, OIA stated that a committee is currently undertaking an evaluation and the reports are yet to be seen.
The OIA India Eye Care Center was established in March 2014 as an endowment funded by OIA. The endowment has five board members from Overseas Infrastructure Alliance India Ltd, OIA Infrastructures Developers PLC which is a local company, the Addis Ababa Health Bureau, Zewditu Hospital and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
According to Deokar, who is on the board of the eye care center there is still a need for capacity building at the center.
“The problem is that nobody wants to take the ownership of this project, neither the Addis Ababa City Health Bureau, the Health Ministry, the Addis Ababa City Bureau of Finance and Economic Development (BoFED), the Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority (FMHACA), nor Zewditu Hospital. We are giving the fund, we are managing it, and our doctors are working in the center,” said Deokar calling for partners’ support.
So far, the center, which is non-profit, has treated more than 22,000 patients. It has also done 70 percent free and subsidized operations for 751 patients.
Deokar also stated that the tripartite agreement that was signed by BoFED, the Health Bureau and OIA clearly states the roles and responsibilities of every organization. But, there have been issues with the stakeholders meeting those responsibilities.
“As per the contract agreement, the government has to give us 42 staff including two doctors. To date only 30 people and no doctors have been provided. We have been asking the government for support to build the capacity of the center but still there is nothing. How can we work on knowledge transfer with out adequate staff?” said Deokar.
At times the already provided staff is ‘taken away from the center for 15 to 20 days for trainings and meetings,’ it was stated at the press conference. This has hindered the process of knowledge transfer, which was one of the major aims of the Center as well as the overall function of the center.
“When we completed our first three year project plan, an evaluation was done by BoFED, FMHACA and the Health Bureau. All of them did the evaluation independently and have presented the report to the government. When you look at the report, the findings were very clearly mentioned by the organizations’ own team. It states that there should be one administration,” he explained. He said that the two administration system of the government and the endowment has caused a big problem.
“We have been communicating with Zewditu Hospital and the Health Bureau about the problems we are facing. We have all the documents, letters we have submitted, it is not like we are not telling anybody and we are just working. We need 45 people all the time, otherwise you cannot run the show. They also keep changing the staff every few month, which is another problem with the knowledge transfer,” he further stated.
According to OIA, some board members of the endowment fail to even attend meetings, including those considered urgent.
“We give them notices for meetings but they don’t come. On Monday’s meeting which we called urgently, the person from the Health Bureau was not present. I am at this press conference because I am worried about my money,” the general manager added.
“A dedicated team needs to be posted from the government side so that we can go to them, tell them our problems and find solutions. Allegations only come to OIA and not the other involved parties because people do not understand the concept of the project; it is an endowment, not owned by OIA,” said Deokar.
“OIA is giving the money for the Center. It is also administrating it. It is doing the charity but OIA’s name is being spoiled and the people who have to bother, don’t care, so what would the donor say? Let’s stop it, wash our hands and let it go. Finally we would have to take that decision,” Deokar said.
OIA says that steps need to be taken to ensure that there is a committed manpower support from Zewditu Hospital, a dedicated team of professionals from the Ministry of Health to work in the center as well as posting of more ophthalmologists to increase the capacity of the center.
The hospital is not yet generating revenue and OIA is injecting a million birr every month into it. “As per the project plan, it should have been self sustained by now. Nobody is asking where the shortfall is coming from,” he concluded. The plan was to serve 70 percent of underprivileged patients who are unable to pay for their treatment free, and 30 percent other paying patients.
The OIA India Eye Care Center was built with an investment of USD 2.5 million. Located in the premises of Zewditu Memorial Hospital, the eye care center is said to have been equipped with world class standard and the latest technology making it the first kind in the region.
The center that has 15 beds offers treatment to patients suffering from conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes related eye problems and plastic surgery around the eyes. It also has an in house training center for surgeons, paramedic and administrative staff to build the local human resources.