“VISION-SAVE” project aims to combat childhood blindness

VISION-SAVE is a United States Agency for International Development-Childhood Blindness Project (USAID-CBP) and was established in January 2017 in Kwara state, Nigeria to guarantee continuum of care from Detection of eye problems/visual impairment in children through treatment to rehabilitation. It has the aim to:

  • Increase Access to early Visual Evaluation for Children 0-2year olds at both rural and urban health facilities.
  • Achieve Early Detection of visual problems and Support Early Intervention and
  • Ensure Sustainability beyond USAID funding.
HIGHLIGHTS
  1. It involved building the capacity of Community Health Workers to use interview, red reflex test/ instrument vision screener to detect children who might have eye problems or are at risk of visual impairment during routine immunization.
  2. Establishment of referral pathways between the immunization clinics and the paediatric eye unit at the University of Ilorin Teaching hospital to provide high quality, comprehensive, cost effective, subsidized/ free further evaluation and intervention in a timely manner.
  3. The pilot project was established at 4 immunization clinics in Kwara state. It was expected to conduct vision screening for 5,500 children, provide medical treatment, refraction and surgeries as may be needed. The surpassed the deliverables, it established /strengthened eight vision screening sites from where 6,617 (January to July 2017) children had vision screening and 591 (8.9%) were referred to the paediatric Child Eye unit at UITH for further evaluation and treatments including medical, optical and surgical care.
  4. Various cases referred included bilateral retinoblastoma in a 6 week old, Cataract, Congenital Glaucoma, Coloboma, Corneal opacity, ptosis, CNLDO and Refractive errors etc. Older children were also referred, while adults presented as well for eye problems which led to an outreach in the rural community where one of the immunization clinics was located.
  5. It was supported by Kwara State government, the wife of the Governor was involved in advocacy for the program. It was highly subscribed by caregivers.
  6. The OSN leadership supported the program; the President and Secretary attended the dissemination workshop. Others in attendance included Officials and members of OSN Kwara states, Kwara Eye Care Program team, Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association-Kwara State, Department of Paediatrics,  Schools for training of Nurses at different levels and Community Health Workers , various NGO groups in the state, Local Government officials,  Commissioner for Women affairs representing the wife of the Governor, Her Excellency Deacon Omolewa Ahmed, Management of University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Chief Medical Director of Ilorin General Hospital, Community Health workers from 20 immunization Clinics,  Project team members, Media Houses and staff of Child Survival Foundation International project team- Prof O. A Mokuolu and Prof T.M Akande.
CONCLUSION

The project was able to strengthen primary health care services using Community Health Workers to deliver child eye health services alongside routine immunization services. It is an effective strategy for child eye health promotion with resultant early detection and treatment thereby achieving child survival and childhood blindness prevention.

We recommend a scale-up of this project to become a State wide and National Program for early Childhood Eye Health Promotion.

Here are some images from a VISION-SAVE dissemination workshop.

Dr. Dupe Ademola-Popoola
Project Coordinator

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