Mildred Ulaikere on behalf of Deseret Community Vision Institute and Eye Foundation Centre for the Prevention of Blindness, Nigeria
Training local people to seek out children in their community with pediatric cataracts and other ocular defects and refer them for treatment
There are an estimated 500 children in Ogun State, Nigeria, that have undetected childhood blindness due to pediatric cataracts alone. Although the Deseret Community Vision Institute and Eye Foundation Centre has been able to offer free, as well as highly subsidized, ophthalmic services to members of these communities, few children have been able to benefit due to the cost of transportation and services.
This initiative proposes to use a 'key informant' scheme to seek out children in their local communities who have pediatric cataracts, as well as other ocular defects, and refer them for treatment. This method has previously been run successfully in Tanzania, Malawi and Bangladesh.
Throughout the region, 120 key informants will be trained to identify children in need of eye care. The benefits will be mutual – children requiring medical or surgical care will be offered treatment free of charge, and the informant will gain skills, an additional source of income, and respect within the community.
Children identified as having uncorrected refractive errors and low vision will be sold low-cost spectacles and low vision devices. Free transportation will be offered to these children for screening and surgery, as well as follow-up visits.
It is hoped that this project will significantly reduce the prevalence and economic burden of childhood blindness in this region.
A list was developed of key 'informants' to be trained to find blind children and bring them to the base hospital. In addition, a bus was purchased to transport patients to screening centers in Ogun state, and ongoing screening has started. As of September 2013, six children have had surgery for traumatic cataracts, among other treatments.