Orbis Africa – Comprehensive Eye Care: Outreach Strategies
As part of Orbis’s comprehensive eye care project in North Western Province, Zambia, the strategic inclusion of local community structures is proving to be an effective approach to reach rural populations and strengthen the referral pathway.
Neighbourhood health committees, made up of community health workers, play a vital role in identifying people with eye health issues and referring them for assessment. Ensuring that community health worker are trained and receive ongoing has been a key learning and success factor in improving eye care service delivery over the last six months.
Strong referral networks are essential and have proven to increase the uptake of services: as the project expands, gaps and weaknesses in the referral process are identified and rectified by community health workers skilled in primary eye care and the referral pathway.
This means that outpatient services for minor conditions like conjunctivitis are treated at rural health facilities, with only complicated cases being referred, thereby also reducing the pressure on already strained urban facilities.
The project’s investment in capacity building of available human resources and partnerships with key strategic stakeholders, such as local community structures, is a priority. Such a favourable partnership platform also helps integration of project activities into the provincial health system, auguring well for project sustainability.
Country Representative: Zambia
HKI Myanmar – Working with the Prevention of Blindness Program
HKI involved the Prevention of Blindness program (PBL) staff within Ministry of Health (MOH) throughout the baseline survey and Primary Eye Care training.
PBL directly contributed to the baseline survey by assigning staff to that supported these activities in the field. The survey protocol was submitted to the ethics committee for final approval. This is an important step that will allow us to share the findings from the survey with government.
The training for the master trainers was designed and implemented with the direct support and involvement of the PBL.
The training took place in the capital city of NPT.
Participants in the primary eye care master training included PBL staff, Senior Township MOH staff as well as the CARROT project manager and officers.
By involving PBL in the planning and encouraging their active participating and leadership in this process, along with full transparency about the activities that CARROT is conducting, PBL was able to observe and recognize the significant gaps in knowledge and capacity at community level and among BHS during the training.
This also provided an opportunity for PBL and CARROT staff to learn from experts in the field and secured PBL involvement with and commitment to the community level training with BHS and volunteers, and their permission to conduct the trainings.
Every time HKI conducts training and monitoring activities, permission from the government is required.
The stronger our partnership becomes, the more likely requests for permission to conduct trainings will be granted and the greater the level of buy-in from government officials. This buy-in is critical to achieving the long term sustainability of this program.
Dr Nwe Ni Ohn
Helen Keller International
Regional Advisor, Asia Pacific
Helen Keller International