HEALTHCARE

Teachers to use phones to detect eye problems among learners

The new eye examination technology has been piloted in more than 200,000 pupils in 350 schools in Trans Nzoia

In Summary

• It uses smartphone technology to carry out various eye tests including visual acuity, colour vision as well as lens and retinal imaging.

• The counties to benefit include Kajiado, Kakamega, Mombasa, Kwale, Vihiga, Meru, Embu, Kiambu, Bomet and Nakuru.

Health PS Susan Mochache signs the Data Processing Assurance agreement with Peek Vision paving way for the roll out of smartphone technology that will be used by teachers and Community Health Workers to detect eye problems at the grassroots level on Friday, February 25.
HEALTH ACCESS: Health PS Susan Mochache signs the Data Processing Assurance agreement with Peek Vision paving way for the roll out of smartphone technology that will be used by teachers and Community Health Workers to detect eye problems at the grassroots level on Friday, February 25.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Teachers and community health volunteers will now be able to use smartphone technology for early detection of eye problems among learners.

The Ministry of Health on Friday partnered with Peek Vision to rollout the project in 10 counties across the country.

Peek Vision develops technology and programmes for sustainable access to eye care.

The signing of the agreement paves way for the launch of the Vision Impact (Eye Care Services) project by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March.

The counties to benefit are Kajiado, Kakamega, Mombasa, Kwale, Vihiga, Meru, Embu, Kiambu, Bomet and Nakuru.

The new eye examination technology has been piloted in more than 200,000 pupils in 350 schools in Trans Nzoia county.

The Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) was developed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

It uses smartphone technology to carry out various eye tests including visual acuity, colour vision as well as lens and retinal imaging.

Health PS Susan Mochache signs the Data Processing Assurance agreement with Peek Vision paving way for the roll out of smartphone technology that will be used by teachers and Community Health Workers to detect eye problems at the grassroots level on Friday, February 25.
EYECARE: Health PS Susan Mochache signs the Data Processing Assurance agreement with Peek Vision paving way for the roll out of smartphone technology that will be used by teachers and Community Health Workers to detect eye problems at the grassroots level on Friday, February 25.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

“The technology has been tested and validated in Trans Nzoia county. We are starting with 10 counties then it is something we will roll out across the country,” Dr Michael Gichangi said.

Dr Gichangi is the head Ophthalmic Services Unit at the Ministry of Health.

“The idea is to also have it within the community. Most of the work has been done in schools but we want to expand. In the 10 counties the communities will also be involved,” he said.

This is major boost to eyecare in the country as the technology can be used by non-highly trained personnel.

The equipment will help address issues of access due to scarcity of trained personnel.

The project is an initiative of the Health ministry in collaboration with Peek Vision and Christian Blind Mission. It will be implemented in conjunction with the Education ministry.

Health data shows many Kenyans are in need of eye treatment or surgery. However, only 21.3 per cent or 1.6 million have been able to access eyecare from public and private facilities.

About 7.5 million people need interventions to prevent loss of vision, restore vision or improve vision.

The ministry says about 75 per cent of visual impairment results from preventable causes, such as cataracts, which can be removed to restore sight.

Health PS Susan Mochache signs the Data Processing Assurance agreement with Peek Vision paving way for the roll out of smartphone technology that will be used by teachers and Community Health Workers to detect eye problems at the grassroots level on Friday, February 25.
EARLY DIAGNOSIS: Health PS Susan Mochache signs the Data Processing Assurance agreement with Peek Vision paving way for the roll out of smartphone technology that will be used by teachers and Community Health Workers to detect eye problems at the grassroots level on Friday, February 25.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

“What is even worse is more than 80 per cent of the 250,000 people who suffer from blindness might not have been blind had there been early diagnosis and treatment," Health CAS Rashid Aman said at a past event.

The World Health Organization said more than one billion people are living with vision impairment because they do not get treatment for short- and far-sightedness, glaucoma and cataracts.

Ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eyecare, particularly in low-to-middle income countries, are reasons more people are living with impaired vision.

Through the Universal Health Coverage, the Health ministry aims to strengthen collaboration with all health partners.

The aim is to ensure no Kenyan is needlessly blind and under-served communities can access eyecare.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

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