Kenya has eye on public corneal health
NAIROBI: Kenya is developing legislation to improve the availability and access to corneal transplantation services and other organ donation and transplant services, an official said on Saturday.
Sicily Kariuki, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health, said that a bill would soon be tabled in parliament to help provide the country with appropriate legislation to guide corneal transplants.
“We have about 75 000 people with corneal diseases, who are in need of corneal transplant services to prevent them from going blind or to restore sight to those already blind,” Kariuki said at a forum in Nairobi.
She said the legal interventions would lead to sight restoration, like corneal transplantation, cataract surgery and others, to translate into a remarkable improvement in the quality of life of the beneficiaries and their families.
Kariuki said the government was taking up the matter seriously since cornea infection was the third leading cause of blindness globally.
She said the efforts were ongoing with the National Health Insurance Fund to ensure that there was inclusion of corneal transplantation in the insurance benefit package.
In the last one year alone, about 400 Kenyans have received corneal transplants across the country, and about 600 individuals are on the waiting list at various health facilities.
“These numbers, however, understate the existing burden as they represent less than 1% of the estimated need,” said Kariuki.
She lauded organisations that had advocated corneal donations and harvesting from dead people before the disposal of the bodies.
Eye Bank Ambassadors and volunteers have mobilised and facilitated cornea donations and harvesting of over 200 corneas in the last year. In Kenya, eye treatment is done at public and private health facilities and the country has grappled with a rise in keratoconus cases. |