Children are screened by trained staff for eye diseases such as cataracts and those who need further examination, treatment or surgery are referred to tertiary health facilities.
Thousands of children in Zambia's Southern Province will receive treatment to save their eyesight and prevent eye infections. This is made possible by a new project launched by Peek Vision and funded by CBM. The project, which targets 20 schools, will see 20,000 children screened by trained staff for eye diseases such as congenital cataract, glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity and optic nerve hypoplasia. Those who need further screening, treatment or surgery are referred to tertiary health facilities such as Macha Mission Hospital.
The school's eye health programme is the first of its kind and has attracted the interest of the Ministries of Health and Education. The two ministries have signed all the necessary agreements with Peek and CBM and have given the green light for implementation.
In less than 8 weeks, 9,000 children have already been screened. To achieve this, 16 screeners from different primary health facilities in the target districts of Choma, Namwala and Kalomo were trained and supported with mobile phones.
The use of Peek technology has simplified the screening process. Many of the screeners admitted that it takes much less time to screen a patient compared to manual screening, allowing them to screen more patients in a day than before.
In collaboration with the Esillor Foundation, the project aims to provide glasses to identified children who need them.
"With the launch of a Peek-supported programme in Zambia, the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and implementing partners, has launched a flagship project to digitise eye health data collection and use technology to bring eye health services as close as possible to the community," Slinganiso Homela, CBM's Programme Manager in Zambia said.
In addition, the programme addresses critical gaps in the availability of up-to-date, comprehensive, and disaggregated eye health data in Zambia. This will ensure that the Ministry has accurate data that is critical for decision-making on health priorities and gaps.