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Six million Kenyans 'cannot access eye treatment'

Health & Science
 15.5 per cent of Kenyans need quality eye care services. [iStockphoto]

The Ministry of Health has said 6.3 million Kenyans have eye problems but the government is unable to provide quality healthcare.

Head of Ophthalmology Michael Gichangi on Sunday said only 1.56 million out of the 7.8 million people in need of specialised eye care services can be operated on and treated.

This group can also take their spectacles for correction, Dr Gichangi said during the announcement of a partnership with Fred Hollows Foundation and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in Nairobi. The deal is aimed at improving services offered to eye patients in Kenya.

“The Ministry of Health estimates that 15.5 per cent of Kenyans need quality eye care services ranging from surgeries, treatments, and spectacle corrections. However, only about a fifth have access to eye health services,” Gichangi said.

He added: "But the government is addressing the situation through such partnerships that are helping us expand equitable access, including in remote parts of the country."

Gichangi said the government is focused on increasing access to specialised eye care for the treatment and management of cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. 

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) 2020 Vision Atlas report on Kenya shows there were an estimated 3.9 million people with vision loss, out of which, 290,000 people were blind. 

The Fred Hollows Foundation and Novartis Pharmaceutical have unveiled the integrated eye health programme to tackle avoidable blindness in Kenya.

The programme, which is part of an ongoing partnership to tackle avoidable blindness, aims at improving the accessibility to eye health services.

The programme will educate over 400,000 people on eye diseases and screen at least 40,000 patients.

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