The roles and responsibilities of the Eye Institute Outreach Services are outlined below:
To map out as comprehensively as possible, the various community-based groups and associations already involved with the community in self help programmes, adult literacy, nutrition and health programmes, rehabilitation and social inclusion, etc.
To explore how to engage the most active among these groups into long-term partnerships with the Institute and in the planning and implementation of bridging strategies between the institute and target groups mentioned above. For instance, the identification, counselling and referral of adults and children living with cataract could be organised through trained Key Informants in the communities, such as distributors of Ivermectin or of condoms, in communities where such activities exist.
To develop and implement winning strategies that ensure that the maximum number of children and adults needing cataract or other urgent surgeries are identified and referred to the Eye Institute without undue delay.
To engage Diabetes self-help groups to reach out to patients at risk of blindness from diabetic retinopathy, so that they can be referred in a timely manner for full assessment, treatment and advocacy.
To work closely with community leaders, social workers and other major players within the community, in the establishment of a comprehensive database of indigent people in each village. This is to ensure that all those needing help or service at the Institute will receive it, regardless of their ability to pay.
Based on evidence gathered over the years, access to eye care services in sub-Saharan Africa is anything but automatic. In fact in most places, no more than 30% of people with eye problems will eventually be seen by a qualified eye worker, and for blinding (but treatable) conditions, this could be as low as 1 in 10. It follows that for anyone serious about improving eye care and fighting needless blindness, “reaching out” to the community is not just a nice thing to do, but an essential component of that work. This explains why at MICEI, our partner Eye Institute in Cameroon, a dedicated Outreach team has been created.
Patients waiting to be attended to during community outreach