Over 100,000 residents of Siaya have in the last six years benefitted from free eye care camps courtesy of the local county government and partners, a senior official has said.
Jerry Williams Ochieng, the Director of Communications in the county’s health department said that the partnership has seen 10,000 residents undergo free surgeries to correct various conditions hence restoring their sight.
Speaking during an eye camp at Simenya Health Centre in Ugunja sub county, Ochieng who was accompanied by the county eye surgeon, Dr. Calvin Omondi said the partnership has seen many families save on thousands of shillings that would have been spent seeking medical services elsewhere and hailed those behind the medical camps.
“We have so far served over 100,000 people since 2015 when the eye care camps began,” said the communications director adding: “we have done 10,000 surgeries to correct eye problems affecting our people.”
He said that the success of the program was proof that devolution was working as it had brought services that were hitherto only available in Sabatia and Kikuyu eye hospitals in Vihiga and Kiambu counties closer.
Addressing the media during the occasion, Dr. Omondi said that through support from organisations such as Fred Hollows Foundation and Australia Aid, they have been able to help people from humble backgrounds restore their sight.
Dr. Omondi said that half the cases of blindness are caused by cataract, which can be corrected but high poverty levels has seen many losing their sight because they cannot afford the surgery.
“Eye hospitals charge an average of Sh25, 000 for cataract surgery but, with support of the partners, we do it for free,” said the surgeon.
A beneficiary of the program, Shirleen Akinyi hailed the organizers of the free eye camps, saying that they have enabled her nine month old son regain sight.
Akinyi said that her son, Brighton Otieno was born with eye problems, a condition which was discovered when the boy was three months old.
“I took him to Siaya County Referral Hospital and was referred to Sabatia eye hospital where the doctors said he suffered from cataract which had made him blind,” said the young mother.
She said that the doctors at Sabatia told her that the situation could be corrected through surgery that would cost sh. 16,500 per eye, an amount that she could not afford.
Akinyi said that through support from Fred Hollows foundation, she has been able to see her son through cataract operation that has so far restored sight in one of his eyes.
“The other one requires a lens and I have been assured that it will be re-operated” she said.
By Philip Onyango