Vision Impact Project:

Ending Preventable Blindness in Kenya

People like nine-year-old Emmanuel can now focus on school and life after receiving surgery from CBM's partner, Sabatia Eye Hospital in Kenya.
©CBM

With the support of CBM and partners, health systems in Kenya will be strengthened so that millions can have better access to eye care. More than 8 million people will benefit from this project.

A new, ambitious four-year project designed by CBM to reduce avoidable visual impairment and blindness will be launched in Kenya on April 21, 2022. The Vision Impact Project (VIP), which targets ten counties in Kenya, will provide inclusive access to quality public eye health services.  

The 17-million-euro project will be launched in Nairobi, Kenya. 

The project, funded by CBM and BMZ (The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), is in line with CBM’s mandate of ensuring that everyone has access to effective eye care and that those permanently affected by vision impairments get the support and opportunities they need. To achieve this, CBM focuses on creating inclusive, sustainable, and locally owned eye health services and eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).  

Of the 7.5 million people in Kenya who have problems related to vision loss and impairment, only 1.6 million have access to effective eye care services. Yet, 75% of these eye diseases can be treated to prevent sight loss. Unfortunately, these people do not have support and live with the impact of their conditions on their chance to get an education, to work, or even to be accepted as members of their communities.  

Innovations like the smartphone-based vision screening app, Peek Vision, will be adopted to enable nonmedical personnel such as community workers and teachers to screen patients. The technology supports eye screening and referrals in regions of the world where such support is scarce, and resources are limited. Based on this, it is expected that at least 60% of the community and at least 80% of school children in Kenya will be screened during the project period. 

The VIP project, whose focus is strengthening health systems across all levels of health care, is aligned with the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s National Eye Health Strategic Plan, Kenya’s Vision 2030, the WHO’s vision priorities and UN Sustainable Development Goals. By creating access to inclusive, equitable eye care systems, Kenya will take a step toward integrating eye health care into its Universal Health Coverage. 

The project interventions include:

  1. Strengthen infrastructure, equipment, instruments, medical supplies, and human resources for eye health.  
  2. Create awareness and increase demand for Inclusive Eye Health services through efficient screening using Peek technology and referrals. 
  3. Integrate services and include eye health in government health policies and plans. 

VIP Kenya will support sustainability and local ownership through gradual transitioning of eye health service delivery to trained local providers. The aim is to ensure that when the project ends, communities continue to receive needed services at equipped health centres nearer to home and will only be referred to specialist eye care units when necessary.  

A turning point for Emmanuel's future

This approach will ensure that people with eye conditions or those who need rehabilitation following sight loss will access eye services. People like nine-year-old Emmanuel.  

Emmanuel’s teachers suspected he had a visual impairment because he could not read from the blackboard. They informed his mother Benerdate who took him to a hospital where he was diagnosed with a bilateral cataract.   

“They asked me to pay 36,000 Kenyan shillings (286 Euros) for Emmanuel to undergo surgery. I could not afford it because I do not have a regular income, even getting enough food is a problem. Sometimes we go to sleep hungry,” says Benerdate. 

Her husband died before Emmanuel started school.  

“Emmanuel was unhappy with school; he was beaten almost every day because he could not do homework. I felt pain at his predicament, I did not know what to do. If you look at his maths work, he gets average marks, and yet he cannot see properly. This means that if he could see, he would be doing well. He wants to be a doctor or a teacher, but will he achieve it? Not having an education is a real disadvantage in this life.”

Luckily, Emmanuel and Benerdate were visited by a CBM team during community outreach. They arranged for him to have surgery at CBM partner hospital, Sabatia Eye Hospital where his sight was corrected. Now he can focus on school.  

With the new VIP project, more children like Emmanuel and more adults can access much-needed care to save their sight.