New operation theatre brings life-changing eye care to Elgeyo-Marakwet County

Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Kenya, March 21, 2023 – More patients living in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Kenya and surrounding areas will have access to advanced eye health care, thanks to a new operation theatre now open at the Eye Unit at Iten County Referral Hospital.

Made possible through the generosity of Operation Eyesight’s donors, the operation theatre was established in partnership with the county government and the Ophthalmic Services Unit at Kenya’s National Ministry of Health. The facility will provide the space and equipment needed to provide sight-restoring eye surgery to patients.  

A gentleman with a moustache, wearing a traditional red and black plaid cloak, smiles as he looks at a woman, holding a microphone.
Operation Eyesight President & CEO Kashinath Bhoosnurmath, left, and Alice Mwangi, speak to a crowd of government partners, hospital staff and other partners, at the grand opening of the new operation theatre at Iten County Referral Hospital, Kenya.

“Healthy eyes and vision care change lives. For a parent, it can mean the chance to provide for their family. For a child, it can mean the chance to attend and thrive at school,” says Alice Mwangi, Operation Eyesight’s Country Director for Kenya, pictured above with Kashinath Bhoosnurmath, President & CEO.

“We are bringing quality eye health care to people’s front doors, and this new operation theatre builds on the success of other eye services that have recently been added to the community.” 

To support the new operation theatre, Operation Eyesight has provided training for three ophthalmic workers, supported the purchase of consumables and eye medicine, and conducted community outreach activities. The organization also supported the construction of the Iten Eye Unit, which opened in October 2021, providing much-needed space for doctors and patients. 

Blue-roofed grey brick building in a green field.
Opened by Operation Eyesight and our partners in 2021, the Iten Eye Unit is an eye health hub for the community that provides a range of services, including comprehensive eye exams, cataract surgeries and other procedures.

“In the past, the eye unit operated out of two small rooms. Many patients and families previously faced barriers to accessing eye health care, including cost and lack of locally-available services,” explains Mwangi. “Today, we are able to better meet demand while also raising awareness about the available services in the surrounding community.” 

Operation Eyesight began working in Elgeyo-Marakwet County in 2008.  As part of its Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Programs, Operation Eyesight has trained 36 local community health volunteers to deliver health education, screen community members for eye problems and refer them for treatment if needed. To date, 180,000 local residents have been screened for eye conditions and over 75,000 people have received treatment, including more than 3,500 people who have received sight-restoring cataract surgeries. 

A man in a suit hads a brightly decorated staff to a man with a moustache, wearing a traditional red and black Kenyans cloak.
Kashinath Bhoosnurmath, President & CEO of Operation Eyesight, right, receives a rungu, traditional symbol of leadership among the Kalenjin community, from His Excellency Wisley Rotich, the Governor of Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Kenya.

So far, Operation Eyesight and partners have declared 35 villages as avoidable blindness-free, which means the communities are free of any untreated cases of vision loss.  

Through the program, OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation has donated over 1,000 pairs of readers for community members.   

Operation Eyesight is a Canada-based international development organization working to prevent blindness and restore sight in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In June 2023, Operation Eyesight will celebrate 60 years of collaborating with local hospitals and government partners to invest in sustainable eye health treatment, blindness prevention and community development.