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Vitamin A and Vision care campaign

Vitamin A in reduction of child mortality by building healthy immune systems. A network of Optical Technicians – Eye Rafiki (Friend of the Eye), a program powered by EssilorLuxottica promotes awareness and offers affordable vision care to communities living in rural Kenya.

Published: 13.07.2022
Mary Kyale Program Manager - Education and Professional Services
OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation
David Doledec Program Director, Vitamin A Supplementation / Kenya Country director
Helen Keller International
Helen Keller International and EssilorLuxottica

These two like-minded organizations decided to join forces through empowering the frontline community health workers (CHW) to provide a broader scope of health care support by adding vision care to vitamin A distribution.

Vitamin A is proven to reduce child mortality by helping to build healthy immune systems. In places where diets tend to be deficient in vitamin A, twice-yearly supplements for children aged six months to five years can be the difference between life and death.

Helen Keller International has been tackling malnutrition in Kenya for the past 12 years.

It’s primary methodology for delivering vitamin A supplements to children in Kenya is through campaigns. These are special events during which health workers or volunteers deliver vitamin A door-to-door or at community gathering events during a specific period of time.

In parallel, a network of Opticians (named “Eye Rafiki” which can be translated as “Friend of the Eye”) has been working in the same regions as Helen Keller Int’l but to promote vision care. In the wake of Covid19 crisis, communities living in rural and semi urban areas have been finding it more and more difficult to access affordable vision care.

These two like-minded organizations decided to join forces and leverage a Vitamin A campaign to synchronize the distribution of spectacles vouchers that subsidize the price of a pair. In doing so, this new partnership model aims at:

  • Empowering the frontline community health workers (CHW) to provide a broader scope of health care support by adding vision care to vitamin A distribution,
  • Improving the access to vision care by leveraging the CHW’s grassroots knowledge of the communities in need and leveraging their unique links to communities to raise awareness about it,
  • And eventually increasing the affordability of vision correction solution.

A pilot has been smoothly carried out in November-December 2021 in the county of Bungoma and showed promising results. After having trained the CHW on the pitch to raise awareness on vision care and identify who may need to have a vision screening, they were given the vouchers.  The conversion ratio of vouchers into actual spectacles turned out to be up to 68%, which indicates both how glaring the need of vision correction is and how precise the distribution of these vouchers was. As a result, a 10 times bigger campaign is under way in two counties from June to July 2022.

By doing so, Helen Keller Int’l & 2.5NVG leverage each other’s strengths for the benefit of the communities and provide a better health care service to them.

Focus on Child Eye Health engages some of the world’s best and brightest thought leaders throughout the year to share knowledge, inspire action, discuss ideas and push Child Eye Health to the forefront of pressing development issues. It is supported by CooperVision.