By Lorraine Anyango
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) has been selected as a beneficiary of a new project to reduce the prevalence of blindness caused by cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy in Kenya.
The project dubbed ‘Achieving Integrated Eye Health in Kenya’ is a three-year collaboration between Novartis and Fred Hollows Foundation, its pilot is being implemented in Kisumu and Washin Gishu County.
Through this partnership, JOOTRH will benefit from a Fundus camera donated by Novartis, the same is to be shared between MTRH and JOOTRH to enable the project to be success full.
Representatives of Fred Hollows Foundation including, Ms Jane Ohuma, the country manager – Kenya and cluster lead in Kenya and Rwanda and Burundi and Mr Simon Nyamori from Norvastis met with health department of health.
While opening the program rollout and planning meeting, Dr. Emma Obegi Director of Medical Services said that according to MOH 717, data documented in 2021, Kisumu County recorded 277 people in patients discharged seeking eye care, out of these figures, JOOTRH served 233 clients.
15 percent of the patients coming to the facilities need eye care and conditions range from cataracts, trachoma, diabetes-related complications, and referral errors.
She emphasized that eye problems lead to unproductivity and that in the recent past Kisumu has registered an increased number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases hence the need to reduce the burden.
She pointed out gaps that exist in the eye clinic, mentioning the availability of quality eye services, ensuring there is a sufficient workforce, equipment, and infrastructure as well as health products.
“Hubs need to be created to strengthen referrals and create centers of excellence which are equipped and have staff to support other facilities.” She said.
Prof. Ojuma Stephen, head of the eye unit at JOOTRH called on the partners to look into subsidizing the cost of medicine as many who have had complications with diabetes and glaucoma shy away from treatment due to cost.
“We need out reaches programs that will help in identifying cases early and respond accordingly.” Prof. Ojuma said.
The grant coordinator, Fred Hallows Foundation, Mrs. Joy Ouma said that the expected outcomes of the project include strengthened eye health literacy and services, seeking behavior change through integration of eye health into the community health care, and effective eye health referral.
“We expect improved access to cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy services at all levels of care.” She added.
The project will ensure timely diagnosis increase and treatment and uptake and treatment compliance, communities will be sensitized for good outcomes.
The project will also increase the availability of eye health supplies and commodities through the implementation of enabling policy and stronger supplier chain management.
This partnership has already seen about 200 community health workers (CHW) and 189 community health assistants (CHA’s) trained on eye health and the proper referral system.
Dr. Obegi underscored the importance of data in decision making and pointed out that Kisumu County is committed to taking care of families as a unit hence the digitization of community health in the county.
The program will increase the availability of eye health supplies and commodities through the implementation of enabling policy and stronger supply chain management