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"Dream big and chase it. You will reach your destination. " Dr GN Rao

G N RaoDr.Gullapalli Nageshwara Rao is the founder chair of LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI). He has been the force behind the growth of LVPEI into an institute of international acclaim. In this email based interview given to Dr.Tandava Krishnan, he answers questions on topics pertaining to Community ophthalmology, career in research, role of LVPEI in education and optimal use of medical resources

eOphta: Ophthalmology practice in India has changed tremendously in the last couple of decades. As someone who has driven this change are you happy with what has been achieved?

Dr. G N Rao: Much has changed but we still have to go a long way in achieving high quality, basic minimum standards in care and education.  Right now, this is limited to a small fraction

eOphta: A career in medical research is not considered rewarding in India. Your institute gives a lot of emphasis on research and has received due recognition for the same. What advice would you give to young Indian medical professionals who are ambivalent about a career in research?

Dr. G N Rao: Research, in my view, cannot be forced.  But for those interested, it could be very exciting.  The ambivalence is largely due to no exposure to good research.  If someone is inclined, that person should do a short stint with a high quality researcher.  Following this, one can decide

eOphta: You have overseen a very robust community ophthalmology programme in LVPEI. Could you share your thoughts on the idea behind it and what have been its key achievements?

Dr. G N Rao: Seventy percent of Indians live in rural and tribal areas and 80-90% of problems are in these locations and among disadvantaged populations.  Our vision was to serve such populations with high quality comprehensive care.  The biggest achievement is the creation of a model for delivery of eye care for the world - integrating multi level, taking care closer to the door step of people. 

eOphta: Not for profit organisations like LVPEI are seen to be constantly expanding, innovating and reinventing themselves while profit driven organisations are having a hard time adapting to newer challenges. What is the success mantra?

Dr. G N Rao:
- Commitment 
- Service motivation 
- Believing in the cause 

eOphta: LVPEI has a very strong education programme and has been one of the larger contributors of the highly skilled ophthalmology related human resource pool in India as well as abroad. Are you happy with the way things have shaped up?

Dr. G N Rao:
-Very happy.  Our alumni across the world make us proud in the way they have impacted eye care in their geographic areas 
- We have been able to create careers to many rural youth from disadvantaged families. 

eOphta: No country in the world can claim to have a surplus medical budget. However, in India the budgetary allocation for health is usually observed to be inadequate. How best would you believe that the limited resources available be put to use?

Dr. G N Rao:
- Proper planning and more importantly proper implementation of plans 
- Identify priorities and invest on them 
- Monitoring & Evaluation 

eOphta: What is your advice to young students who wish to make a career in ophthalmology?

Dr. G N Rao:
- Think of everything possible in the field and then make a choice 
- Dream big and chase it.  You will reach your destination.