Residents of Elgeyo Marakwet County now have a reason to smile following the establishment of a Sh9 million eye unit at the Iten County Referral Hospital (ICRH).
The project is a joint partnership between Operation Eyesight Universal who funded the first phase of the project which hosts an outpatient unit at a cost of Sh5 million while the County Government will construct the inpatient unit estimated to cost Sh4 million.
Addressing the press in Iten, the Country Manager Operation Eyesight, Alice Mwangi, said the unit will enable the treatment of eye defects including glaucoma and childhood blindness among other eye infections.
The manager said that there is an increased demand for eye care services due to the prevalence of eye defects, especially for people living along the Kerio Valley adding that it was unfortunate that people were losing their sight yet it can be avoided through treatment.
“We are working with the community in the area of screening members of the community for eye defects while at the same time improving the health system to be able to deal with the increasing numbers,” she said.
The manager said the launch of the unit today was part of the celebrations to mark the World Sight Day with the theme ‘Love Your Eyes’.
Dr Marion Kurgat who is an ophthalmologist at ICRH said cataract was the most common cause of blindness accounting for 38 percent of all visual loss saying that they were seeing an average of 30 patients per day with most of the cases being as a result of allergy caused by dust, cold and smoke.
The County Secretary, Paul Chemututt, said that the County Government will fulfil its part by putting up a ward for the eye unit to improve the treatment of eye defects that need surgery.
By Walter Kibet and Alice Wanjiru