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No point in going abroad for eye care services – Mary Ovonlen

By Editor   |   15 October 2016   |   4:16 am

Mary Ovonlen

Mary Ovonlen

Dr Ovonlen Mary is an optometrist who holds a PhD in Optometry from the University of Benin and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Lagos. She is very passionate, focused, easy going, a little bit reserved, a goal getter and enthusiastic about life. Mary is a fun loving dedicated lady with a knack for helping others. Mary is a member of the Nigerian Optometric Association and the Managing Director of Marex eye center.She discusses the practice optometry and other issues with Guardian woman.

What has been your biggest challenge as a medical entrepreneur?
We have been in operation for 4 years. Our biggest challenge is sourcing for personnel, getting the right personnel who believe in our values of providing exceptional service to our clients. In addition to this, just like most Nigerian businesses, insufficient power supply is also a major issue, which impacts on our costs as we expend a lot of funds in powering and maintaining our generators.

How was the transition from being a paid employee to being an entrepreneur?
I worked for about eight years in a very busy practice, having gained experience both in clinical and practice management i decided to set up my own practice. It was rough at the initial stage, from trying to raise the capital to set up the practice with modern equipment and transiting from earning a regular salary to being responsible for paying other staff salary. Also I had to put in more hours, be available at all times because the success or failure of my practice rests on me.

What’s your view on Nigerians going abroad on eye care services?
It’s a personal choice because i believe that we have the manpower and facilities. There are a lot of qualified practitioners in Nigeria, and quality eye care services are available and affordable.

Has this impact your business in any way?
Not particularly. Although we have patients who say they did their eye test while on vacation abroad. This would have generated more revenue if it was done here in Nigeria but they still visit us for follow up services.

Recently the Nigerian Optometric Association asked the federal Government to enact legislation for compulsory eye test for drivers and children, Do you think this is important and why?
This is very important to prevent avoidable death on the highway on the part of the drivers and for children learning difficulties due to poor vision. To celebrate World Sight Day which was on the 13th of October,2016 our association in various states partnered with Federal Road Safety Commission(FRSC), National union of Road Transport Workers(NURTW) and various media houses .In Lagos, there was visual screening for drivers by optometrist at Yaba motor park and eye education talks.

You recently attended a conference in the USA on optometry, what were your takeaways from your participation at the conference.
It was a very interesting and educative conference and the major take home for me is that health insurance is very important in the practice of Optometry and other health profession. Most people rely on insurance for their eye care services, which is put in place by the government of the country. It was another opportunity to discover a comprehensive education covering the full spectrum of medical, diagnostic, lab and practice management skills and the latest trends in eye wear fashion.

Where do you see Marex eye center in the next five years?
We are looking at expanding our network within the next five years and also being of more service to humanity on a larger scale by providing cheap and quality healthcare services.

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