Chronicle: Eye screening programme targets pupils

Desmond Nleya/Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporters

MORE than 24 000 pupils in Bulawayo were screened for eyesight problems last year and more than 2 500 were found to be having eyesight problems.

In a telephone interview, Zimbabwe Council for the Blind (ZCfB), Executive Director, Mr Apples Nyathi, said the eyesight screening programme is targeting both primary and secondary school pupils.

The programme is being rolled in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

“The programme started as a pilot programme in 2015, targeting ten schools with an average of 1 500 pupils per school. Since last year, we have screened more than 24 000 pupils in Bulawayo,” said Mr Nyathi.

He said the programme, will soon include the elderly in rural areas.

“We do 100 percent screening, meaning that when we get to a school, we don’t say teachers give us children with low vision, we just say the whole school because teachers are not qualified to pick those with eyesight problems. We screen all grades, that is from Early Childhood to Grade 7 for primary and Form 1 to 6 for secondary schools.

“Our aim is to replicate this programme in all the provinces,” he said.

During the screening process, pupils found with low vision problems are given medication or spectacles depending on the condition while special cases are referred to Richard Morris Hospital where we have a well-equipped eye unit.

The medication is free while spectacles and referrals are done on a subsidised rates.

Chronicle News crew visited Mtshingwe Primary School during the screening and nurses bemoaned lack of interests by some parents who did not want to have their children screened for various reasons.

“Some reasons are religious while others are just ignorant and do not want their children examined by non-governmental organisations,” said a nurse who preferred anonymity.

The screening programme, Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) is funded by the Christian of the Blind Mission and is done using smartphone technology.


This article first appeared in The Chronicle

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