Kenyans have been urged to go for regular eye check-ups, to enable them receive early treatment, to avoid eye sight problems that can lead to loss of sight.
Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr Rashid Aman, said by taking the initiative, treatable conditions can be arrested, when diagnosed early enough and will give better outcomes and will be cheaper to treat.
He said the government will continue to support both the National and County Health sectors in collaboration with partners in the provision of quality eye health services.
Dr Aman added that the government will continue to increase financial inputs to eye health services, as there are guaranteed returns on investments.
“The Ministry of Health and partners can proudly confirm that there are milestones in eye care over time, with cataract surgery being available in every county,” said Aman.
The CAS made the remarks, today, in a speech read on his behalf by Dr Julius Ogeto, from Kenyatta National Hospital, during the media breakfast meeting to Mark the World Sight Day, held at a Nairobi Hotel.
Aman announced that the government now has a smart phone based application, Portable Eye Examination Kit ((PEEK), when launched, will be used by teachers to screen eye diseases, and specifically identify, those children with refractive errors.
“The teachers once trained are able to refer the children identified, for further examination by an eye health worker,” said Dr Aman.
The World Health Organisation, has also proposed a new strategy ‘Integrated People-centred eye care’ which calls for more emphasis on community engagement, health promotion and disease prevention, in addition to the traditional curative and rehabilitative services.
“The Strategy is very strong on communities taking eye care, as their responsibility, proactively present themselves, for check-up, even when they have no symptoms, or when they have common symptoms like itchy eyes,” he said.
According to statistics at the Ministry of Health, about 7.5 million persons have eye diseases and conditions, which require eye care and out of this large burden of eye diseases, only about 20 per cent are able to access eye care services.
Among the 250,000 persons who are blind in Kenya, about half of them are due to age related cataract, which is treatable and curable, restoring sight in over 90 per cent of the cases.
By Hamdi Mohamud