Kenya has eye on pub­lic corneal health

Pretoria News - - NATION - Xin­hua

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. |

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