World Sight Day 2017: Make Vision Count

NAIROBI, Kenya, 11 October 2017 – The Ministry of Health is appealing to Kenyan’s to make best use of available resources in the county referral hospitals, eye clinics countrywide to ensure that they retain, protect and regain their vision.

According to the Head of ophthalmology, Dr. Michael M. Gichangi the Ministry has invested in technology such as the use of PEEK Phone based-portable eye examination Kit (PEEK) for school screening for refractive errors, and use of Retinal Fundus Photography in screening for diabetes complication in the eyes, with good result.

Dr. Gichangi made the revelations as the country prepares to mark the World Sight Day on Thursday 12th October 2017. The day is marked worldwide on the second Thursday of October every year. It is set aside to highlight matters affecting vision and vision loss as well as progress made worldwide and individual countries. ‘Make Vision Count’ is the theme of this year’s campaign by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

According to Dr. Gichangi vision loss is largely caused by avoidable causes, which include cataract, refractive errors, and diabetic retinopathy. “The good news is that most sight loss is easily treatable or preventable and it requires relatively little investment for a large return. A person whose sight has been saved or restored can contribute to the economy,” he argued.

He observes that patients after cataract surgery, for example, report increases in annual household income and total asset ownership. “Over time and with development, the eye health needs of Kenyans have tremendously increased from not just having sight, but having best possible sight to enjoy high quality of life,” he added.

It is estimated that about 9 million persons are in need of eye care services, all ranging from those who are blind, to those with ocular morbidity and those with Visual impairment. The problems are characteristically found among the aging population over 50 years who constitute over 65% of those with Visual impairment.

The Ministry of Health and County Governments National strategy for Blindness prevention is anchored on global strategy for blindness prevention and treatment, focusing on high quality service provision and addressing the main causes of visual loss. These includes Cataract Surgery, Trachoma control interventions, childhood blindness, and Refractive errors among others.

Dr. Gichangi acknowledges that although Human Resource for eye Health is still a major problem, the Ministry has put in place strategies to accelerate the training of workforce throughout the country. “In addition, we have strategies to rationalize the distribution of workforce by giving priority training opportunities to those from marginalized counties and bonding them after the training,’ he noted.

The Ministry and partners have lined up several activities to make the world sight day. Among them are TV and radio talk shows, screening for eye diseases at Afya House grounds and where possible surgeries in the Counties of Kisii, Elgeyo, Marakwet, Turkana, Migori, Kiambu, Kisumu, Mandera, Makueni, Samburu, Siaya, Busia and Kikuyu Eye Unit.