Lions Club and Sankara Nethralaya take a giant step towards a common ideal and cherished cause

As two seasoned players in the battle against blindness the Lions Club and Sankara Nethralaya are only well aware that the enemy strikes across a wide area and a vast population and the only way to mount the counter offensive is by enhancing the quality and size of the relief army. As a nation with the dubious distinction of having the largest diabetic population the Lions Club realized that the assault against diabetes caused blindness or diabetic retinopathy called for a more concerted and stronger effort.

The Lions Club launched its ‘Lions Diabetic Retinopathy skills transfer training program’ aimed at providing the required expertise and special knowledge to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy the second largest cause of blindness after cataract in the country, with its old and trusted ally ‘Sankara Nethralaya on 7th of April 2015, observed as ‘World Health Day’ at the Sri VD.Swami Auditorium, Sankara Nethralaya main campus. Starting the proceedings on a vibrant note Lion M.V Raghunathan one of the chief architects of the initiative extended a warm welcome to the distinguished Chief Guest of the day His Excellency Shri K.Rosaish, the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu, fellow Lions, dignitaries and participants, he recalled the association between Lions and Sankara Nethralaya since the early days and described that the partner institution was built with honesty, integrity and a burning passion to serve by Lion Dr S.S.Badrinath.

Senior Vitreo-Retinal Consultants Dr. Rajiv Raman and Dr. Suganeswari gave informative and interesting inputs on the ailment against which the initiative was being launched, they had a high word of praise for Lion Dr. Chandrasekhar Shetty and Lion S.N.Harinarayanan for their critical role in evolving the program. Dr Rajiv Raman described that the program would be based on the key steps of screening, training and treatment. Acknowledging the praise and kind words showered on Sankara Nethralaya Dr S.S.Badrinath underlined that it was the great teamwork of his colleagues that took the credit for the same. He gave an account of the staggering figures involving diabetes and its concomitant diabetic retinopathy which came to light through a epidemiological study conducted with Dr. Rajiv Raman as the principle Invesigator .Dr SS.Badrinath recalled that his association with the Lions Club dated back to his days in the US when Lion Srinivasan most gracefully accepted his request and helped in procuring a ‘Photocoagulator’ a critical device in treating vitreo-retinal patients at the Voluntary Health Services (VHS). He expressed his deep gratitude to Lion Raghunathan, Lion Lady Mrs. Raghunathan and their son living in New York for their most generous and continued monetary and moral support of Sankara Nethralaya’s community eye care initiatives, he thanked Dr. Chandrasekhar Shetty whom he described as a trusted advisor of Sankara Nethralaya for his timely guidance and to Lion S.N.Harinarayanan who spent all his day at the Sankara Nethralaya, serving patients and helping staff with their assignments. Highlighting that India’s medical professionals are among the best in the world he called for training,training and more training to make them effective and give the nation a great working medical model. He expressed Sankara Nethralaya’s desire in starting training centers on the lines of the Sankara Nethralaya Academy in various places in the country.

Delivering the guest of Honour address Lion ‘Bob’E.Corlew expressed his joy at being a part of such a great training initiative as the ‘Lions Diabetic Retinopathy Skills Transfer Training Programme’ he observed that ‘Sight’ has been a Signature initiative of the Lions for more than 100 years ever since the legendary Helen Keller made a historic appeal. Describing the Lions Club as the world’s number one NGO he gave highly impressive statistics of the work done by the Lions in India in terms of running their own hospitals, funding healthcare, preventive medicare, disaster relief etc. He commended the government of India for its brainchild ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) which paved the way for Corporations to serve the public in a large scale. He handed over the award won by an Indian boy in the US for the best painting depicting world peace to His Excellency the Governor.

Delivering the Chief Guest’s address His Excellency the governor of Tamil Nadu Shri K.Rosaiah expressed that he was highly pleased to inaugurate an initiative of such medical significance to the nation, terming diabetes as a ‘gateway’ to many other ailments he appealed for healthy food habits and regular physical exercises to keep fit. He underlined the criticality of  the skills and knowledge transfer program    with his observation that only 7 to 8% of vitreo-retinal surgeons in the country are thoroughly trained in diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy which occurs in such large numbers in the country. He complimented the Lions Club for choosing Sankara Nethralaya which he described as a world renowned institution as its partner in the program. The distinguished Chief Guest closed his address with congratulations to Lion Raghunathan, Lion SS.Badrinath, Lion S.N.Harinarayanan and Dr. Tarun Sharma, wishing the skill transfer initiative all success he quoted a Sanskrit couplet which implied that ‘The right help to the right person, at the right place at the right time without expectations is the most noble deed, drawing a parallel to the knowledge transfer program.