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Project Background

Kenya is a country rich in wildlife, culture, history and friendly, welcoming people. It’s a place of varied and diverse cultures, where modern meets traditional and merges into something truly unique.

Over the years, Kenya has worked hard to improve the health of its people. However, the delivery of eye health services remains a major challenge, especially in rural areas. 

Poverty, lack of education about eye health and a chronic shortage of eye medical specialists all contribute to high rates of avoidable blindness. 

Cataract is the leading cause of avoidable blindness. There is a critical backlog of 100,000 people waiting for sight-restoring surgery. Trachoma ranks second – an eye infection related to poverty that mostly affects people in areas that have limited access to water and sanitation.

Access to healthcare remains a key challenge. There is an acute shortage of surgeons and eye care support staff in Kenya. For every person who receives cataract surgery, there are 10 others who cannot. 

Almost three-quarters of all Kenyan people live in remote and regional areas with very poor access to eye health services, yet the majority of eye health professionals are concentrated in major cities. The cost of travel, and time spent away from employment and home duties prevent many people from seeking treatment. 

Project Overview

Right now, as many as 100,000 people are waiting for sight restoring surgery in Kenya. As part of this project, The Fred Hollows Foundation will work across 4 counties with large rural populations and limited access to eye health services.  

We are committed to training more surgeons and clinic support staff to keep up with the growing demand for cataract surgery. Specifically, Kenya requires additional ophthalmologists and mid-level surgeons to clear the backlog of people needing surgery. 

Our community and school screening camps ensure that many more people, particularly children, living in rural and remote areas are identified and treated in time. 

Furthermore, we will also train 375 community health workers and 4 local eye surgeons and clinic support staff.  We will screen more than 79,520 people, and perform more than 10,354 surgeries to restore sight. Lastly, we will educate more than 1.1 million community members and school children in eye health. 

What's Covered in Project Costs

The $20,000 donated from The Footprints Network will allow The Fred Hollows Foundation to achieve the following outputs as part of the broader project in 2019: 

  • Perform as many as 277 cataract surgeries to restore sight
  • Train one cataract surgeon
  • Screen 500 children at an outreach school screening camp 

Partners and Community Involvement

The Fred Hollows Foundation works in partnership with like-minded organisations and health providers to ensure the largest possible reach and impact of our sight restoring work.

In Kenya, we work with the Ministry of Health to support the delivery of equitable and sustained improvements across eye health services. Our focus is on the rural areas where 80% of the population live, and where access to health services is extremely limited. 

The Foundation works closely with Sabatia Eye Hospital, a not for profit eye hospital in Vihiga County, and other training institutions, including the University of Nairobi. 

Part of a Larger Strategy

The Foundation uses a ‘Health Systems Strengthening’ approach to ensure the delivery of comprehensive eye health for the Kenyan people. Our aim is to ensure eye health is integrated into the national and county health systems. 

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