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Why Kenya’s National Strategic Eye Care Plan is a Win for Good Vision

In Kenya, 250,000 of the 7.5 million people in need of eye care services live each day with blindness, bringing with it significant psycho-social and economic implications. While uncorrected refractive error (URE) is the leading cause of visual impairment in the country’s total population (frequent in children and underserved areas), the cost-effective solution, such as vision correction with spectacles, can have immediate and life-long positive impacts.

The Standard reported, “This policy document was developed following extensive consultations with key players in eye health and the wider health sector.”

In our view, this is welcomed news for a number of reasons. This strategic plan:

  1. Is strongly informed by the WHO’s World Report on Vision and includes recommendations to make eye care an integral part of universal health coverage and implement integrated people-centered eye care in the health system.

  2. Defines three priority population groups and prioritizes, among others, the vision of schoolchildren and teenage students. As experts agree that 80% of all learning is visual, this is an important step in Kenyan children’s education and their future. The Hon. Mutahi Kagwe, EGH Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health says, “Those that are the most affected in this situation are school-going children, who are needlessly denied opportunities to excel in school due to visual impairment. Good vision through early detection and correction of refractive errors opens the world for the school going children.”

  3. Creates a framework to acknowledge optometry technologists, optometrists, and opticians as part of the public health system through the recent creation of The Kenya Human Resource Advisory Council and The Kenya Health Professionals Oversight Authority (KHPOA).

  4. Recommends a National Research Committee and National Eye Health Resource Center to coordinate eye health research mechanisms and bolster local research.

“We commend the Kenyan Ministry of Health for their forward-thinking approach to the vision health of all Kenyans,” says Eva Lazuka-Nicoulaud, Director – Europe and Africa at the Vision Impact Institute. “It’s a testimony to the government’s commitment to vision health even during these times when healthcare resources are devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kenya’s Strategic Eye Health Plan 2020-2025 serves as an example to other countries in the region and around the world.”