Seva Canada donors support a childhood blindness project in Blantyre, Malawi through our east African partner, the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO). The childhood blindness project is centered at the Lions Sight First Eye Hospital (LSFEH) and is dedicated to reducing childhood blindness through early identification of children with visual impairment. Responsibilities of the project include training community volunteers (called key informants and health surveillance assistants) and health workers to identify children with visual impairment as well as providing screening and referral services for these children.
This program focses on identifying children in South Eastern Malawi with cataract to ensure they receive the treatment they require including surgery, follow up and the provision of glasses.
To date, 77 key informants and 50 health surveillance assistance have been trained. Training participants learnt how to identify children with visual impairment and the procedures for referring those children to LFSEH for further treatment.
As of September 30th, 1261 children have had their eyes screened and 58 children have received cataract surgery. Thirty children have received spectacles and another 100 are expected to receive spectacles this quarter.
The families are charged a minimal cost for the surgery but all transportation costs are covered by the paediatric program.
The mother in this photograph brought her four-month-old child to a screening camp after a key informant in her district identified her child as having cataracts. Health workers at the screening found bilateral congenital (both eyes, from birth) cataract in the child and upon examining the mother, discovered that she also suffered from bilateral, congenital cataracts. The health workers asked about the woman’s other children and found two with cataract. All four were referred to hospital and have since received cataract surgery.