Bringing Better Vision to Children in Ethiopia

This photo shows a woman holding up a cell phone with a large, black E in it. A student is standing in front of her.

Which way does the 'E' point? Vision tests being conducted in Zimbabwe.
© CBM/U. Kleiner

As part of the partnership between CBM and Peek Vision, a new school eye health programme is underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is the first CBM-Peek programme to launch in the country and is being implemented by our partner ALERT Hospital in collaboration with district health and education authorities.

The programme aims to reduce the prevalence of visual impairment and avoidable blindness among school-going children in Addis Ababa, by strengthening eye health systems in order to provide more accessible and equitable eye care services.  

Reception to the programme

The first phase of the programme ran from June to August across three schools and received strong support from the school principals. In total, more than 4,500 children have been screened in the schools by health extension workers in collaboration with teachers and health care providers trained to use Peek’s smartphone-based tools. 7% of children screened were identified with an eye problem and referred for follow-up. 33% of those were referred to Health centers and 66% referred to hospital. 99% of those referred had their vision problems confirmed during triage, demonstrating that the screeners can accurately identify eye problems using the Peek Capture app.

Advantages of the programme

Previously in the sub-district, there was extremely limited capacity for eye care services to be provided at the primary level, meaning children with eye problems had to travel local bigger hospitals. 

The new CBM-Peek programme is integrating eye health into existing health services. Children identified by screeners as requiring basic treatment or services are referred to local health centres which are much closer and easier for communities to access. Only those with refractive error or more complex ophthalmic conditions are referred to bigger hospitals for the most specialised services. The majority of children (90%) who were examined at the health centres had their needs met there, while only 10% required a referral to hospital. It is hoped this will help free up specialist hospital capacity. 

As the programme started it was a joyful moment to see the children have their vision screened and be referred for further treatment at health facilities when a problem was identified. Using Peek will help us get eye care to many children in areas where it is difficult to access.
Teamer Misganaw, Eye Health Programme Coordinator for CBM Ethiopia.

There are plans to scale further in new schools and health centres in the sub-district in the coming months.

We’re excited to be delivering a programme with our partner CBM in Ethiopia for the first time. Correcting a child’s vision can make a profound difference to their education and consequently to their life chances. We hope that by integrating eye care into front line health services and implementing school screening using Peek, we can bring better vision to many more children in the region.
Hulda Nduru, Peek Programme Management Lead.

Peek is currently powering programmes in partnership with CBM in multiple other countries in Africa and Asia.