In our recent exploration of eye health initiatives, KTG had the opportunity to delve into the work of Dr. Jackline Aridi, the Principal Investigator in a two year Eye Health Project in Dandora that is aimed at promoting eye health through community health workers using the Peek Acuity smartphone mobile application.
Collaborating with Brother Andre Hospital, Notre Dame International (NDI) and North Western University, Dr. Jackline Aridi and Zinzy Membo, the project manager, have been instrumental in spearheading a pilot program aimed at addressing the pressing need for ophthalmology services in the Dandora community. KTG is happy to highlight their efforts to implement a visual acuity screening initiative utilizing the PEEK tool and to share about the project’s objectives and progress.
Initially, Brother Andre Hospital conducted a survey among community members to determine their most desired healthcare services. The unanimous response highlighted the urgent need for ophthalmology services at Br. Andre Hospital. In response to this demand, Dr. Aridi and her project team have taken the initiative to pioneer a pilot program focused on visual acuity screening. Their project has been approved by the government and, partnering with NorthWestern University, they plan to train community health workers to utilize the PEEK screening program.
During a zoom call, Zinzy Membo, the project manager was excited to share with KTG that the eye health study and screening program began on June 7th, following comprehensive training for community health workers on visual acuity screening with the PEEK data collection program using the Community Health Toolkit (CHT). The hospital aims to screen 5,000 individuals including 2,000 children and 3,000 adults. Although the PEEK app primarily screens for eye acuity issues, Dr. Aridi and Zinzy Membo discovered that it lacks awareness of leukocoria, a significant symptom of various eye conditions. To address this, they plan to incorporate educational materials, including photographs illustrating the glow associated with certain eye conditions, during the later phases of the program. On the call, Zinzy expressed their future desire to approach schools and possibly churches as well as going door to door to ensure that all children are properly screened.
The report highlights the success of the training and provides recommendations for improving the consent forms and referral processes. Uhai Neema Hospital Optometrists will be responsible for further assessments, referrals, and for providing corrective lenses and eyeglasses. The collaboration between Brother Andre Hospital, community health workers, and Uhai Neema Hospital is expected to dramatically improve eye health services in the Dandora community. We will look forward to sharing more updates as the program continues and we are delighted to hear of the success the team is already having in the region as it has the potential to be an example which can lead the way for similar interventions in other locales worldwide!
Exploring New Horizons in Eye Health, The eye project’s impact in Dandora.
In some communities, a lack of knowledge, or risky behavior that is considered socially acceptable, may increase people’s risk of vision loss and blindness. This includes the behavior of individuals (e.g. working in hazardous environments such as Dandora without eye protection) or the community as a whole (e.g. socially acceptable feeding practices that may lead to higher risk of vitamin A deficiency). It is with this reason that Dr. Aridi and her team found it impeccably important to fully understand these underlying issues before trying to make any changes and to work together with the community to challenge risky behavior and promote good eye health behavior. The Dandora community will be empowered to engage in delivering eye care, to support access to screening, treatment and surgery, and to strengthen referral pathways. It is just as important to listen to different groups in the community to ensure that their needs are being met and that any barriers to access are removed. This project is vital to ensure equity of access to eye health services by different population groups, e.g., women, people with disabilities, and everyone regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
During our recent investigation into eye health initiatives, KTG had the privilege of uncovering the remarkable work of the esteemed Dr. Jackline Aridi, Br. Andre Hospital, Notre Dame University and Zinzy Membo, the dedicated project manager. They have played a pivotal role in addressing the critical need for accessible ophthalmology services in the impoverished Dandora community. KTG is thrilled to shine a spotlight on their joint efforts to implement a visual acuity screening initiative utilizing the PEEK tool, while also sharing their project’s objectives and notable progress.
With enthusiasm, Zinzy informed KTG that the eye health study and screening program commenced on June 7th 2023, following extensive training for the community health workers on visual acuity screening using the PEEK data collection program with the aid of the Community Health Toolkit (CHT). While the PEEK app primarily focuses on eye acuity issues, Zinzy and Dr. Aridi have recognized the need to raise awareness about leukocoria, a significant symptom of various eye conditions. As a response, they plan to incorporate educational materials, including photographs illustrating the telltale glow associated with certain eye conditions, in the later phases of the program. Zinzy also expressed their future aspirations to extend their reach to schools, churches, and even door-to-door visits to ensure that all children receive proper screening.
The program’s report provides valuable recommendations for improving consent forms and referral processes. Uhai Neema Hospital Optometrists will play a crucial role in conducting further assessments, making referrals, and providing corrective lenses and eyeglasses. The collaboration between Brother Andre Hospital, community health workers, and Uhai Neema Hospital holds tremendous potential for significantly enhancing eye health services in the Dandora community. KTG eagerly anticipates sharing more updates as the program progresses, and we are delighted by the team’s early success, which serves as an inspiring example for similar interventions in other communities worldwide!