Nairobi, Kenya, September 10, 2021 – Today, September 10, Operation Eyesight Universal and the Uasin Gishu County Government officially launched their School Eye Health Program in the county. Through support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Child Blindness Program, the two-year program will provide vision screening and treatment for 80,000 children and 3,000 teachers in the sub-counties of Soy, Turbo and Aynaoui. (Video of the launch event here.)
“Access to eye care for school-age children is critical; about 80 percent of what a child learns is processed through the visual system,” said H. E. Governor Jackson Mandago, Uasin Gishu County. “This program will ensure that children receive the eye care they need, so they can continue to learn and achieve their dreams.”
While the official launch takes place today, program implementation began in March 2021 with 20 teachers being trained to use the Peek Acuity app, developed by Peek Vision, to identify students with eyesight problems. As of August 20, more than 27,000 children have been screened and 2,242 students have been referred for treatment. (Read Rehema’s story here.)
Eye screenings will be conducted in 200 schools over the course of two years. Students in need of eye care will be referred to a mobile ophthalmic triage team or the nearest eye health facility, and transportation will be provided as needed.
Essilor East Africa is supplying the prescription eyeglasses to correct the vision of children (and teachers) with refractive error. Children requiring further care, such as cataract surgery, will be referred to the Huruma Sub-County Hospital Eye Unit or one of Operation Eyesight’s partner hospitals for treatment. All students will receive the same level of quality care, regardless of their gender, treatment location or ability to pay.
“By investing in children’s eye health to treat diseases, correct refractive error and restore sight, we can transform lives, families and communities,” says Alice Mwangi, Country Manager – Kenya, Operation Eyesight. “We know that women and girls are more likely to suffer from vision impairment and less likely than men and boys to receive treatment and care. Through this project, many of the barriers faced by girls, such as cost and lack of transportation, are addressed. We will educate teachers, parents, grandparents and health workers on the additional barriers faced by girls so they understand and can play a role in addressing these challenges.”
In addition to providing screenings and treatment, the program will provide eye health education for students and teachers and encourage proper hand and face washing to prevent the spread of blinding trachoma. Eco-Soap Bank, a collaborating partner, is providing 100,000 bars of soap for children and teachers to use at school and at home. Operation Eyesight conducted a similar school screening program in Trans Nzoia County from 2016 to 2018 with great success. The program in Uasin Gishu County builds on the lessons learned and aims to not only provide quality eye health services to students but to further refine the program model for scaling up in Kenya. Program results will be shared at the county, national and international levels, enabling other organizations to use these findings when developing their school screening programs.
Operation Eyesight is working in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Education to integrate eye health care into the primary health and education systems and ensure the sustainability of eye health care services.
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About Operation Eyesight Universal
Operation Eyesight is a Canada-based international development organization dedicated to eliminating avoidable blindness in developing countries. It was founded in 1963, and today works in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Zambia, Bangladesh, India and Nepal to prevent blindness and restore sight. Operation Eyesight invests in sustainable treatment, prevention and community development activities to address specific eye health problems as well as the root causes of blindness. To learn more, visit operationeyesight.com.
About Peek Vision
Peek Vision powers eye health organizations with a proven suite of solutions to expedite delivery of care. The result is that more people can get the treatment they need. Peek works in low- and middle-income countries, partnering with health providers, NGOs and governments. With Peek, partners gain better insights, increase efficiency and deliver stronger health systems. Peek’s vision is to bring better vision and health to everybody.
This media release is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Operation Eyesight Canada and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.