Ilukol said for the past years, she had lost contact with the family members adding trachoma had blinded her. “I do not know even how my people look like apart from hearing their voices,” she said.
The elderly line up to have their eyes checked. Photos by Olandason Wanyama
Close to 5,000 elderly persons have been screened under the expanded social protection and sight savers combined pilot efforts to offer eye care services in Moroto district.
Whereas, scores with minor eye problems were given ointment, hundreds with severe eye cases like trachoma trichaisis and cataracts were driven to Moroto regional referral hospital for surgeries and treatment.
The week long pilot exercise covered the four sub-counties of Rupa, Nadunget, Katikeikile and Tapac villages in the district.
Speaking from Moroto regional referral hospital eye clinic Nakode Ilukol, a SAGE beneficiary commended government for the intervention.
“My problem has been the vision that I lost two years ago,” she noted.
Ilukol said for the past years, she had lost contact with the family members adding trachoma had blinded her.
“I do not know even how my people look like apart from hearing their voices,” she said, adding that it’s a good strategy to mobilize the elderly to regain their blurred vision.
The Sight Savers programme manager Moses Wakaisuka acknowledged the move to combine efforts.
“When beneficiaries come for payments those with eye problems take advantage to benefit from eye care services,” he noted.
Wakaisuka said, “It’s expected that bringing on board beneficiaries will enhance our outreach efforts.” This will also add value to the expanded social protection services in the country.
He added that improved sight for the visually impaired will enhance accountability. The elders once they retain their sight will be able to see and count their own money hence eliminating the use of alternative recipients,” Wakaisuka said.
He said his organization had begun with Moroto district to pilot the scheme before rolling out to other districts.
“What we are doing is to see how we can have the elderly sight restored,” Wakaisuka said adding that most of them have been cheated by second parties.
He however, said most beneficiaries were escaping for fear of being operated upon in efforts to regain their sight.
“Soon we shall also establish counseling services so that the beneficiaries to regain vision,” Wakaisuka said.
The district SAGE focal officer Moroto Addah Anyakun welcomed the partnership, saying several had been identified with visual impairment.
“The idea could reduce the cost of accessing the grant by older persons,” she said.
Anyakun explained that beneficiaries were losing lots of cash to helpers who act on a small fee to take them around the villages.
She was optimistic that the effort would improve the quality of life of the beneficiaries.
Anyakun added that with regained vision the beneficiaries will undertake a number of economic activities saying they could be several and varied.
She however said most elderly persons that are blind feared to go for surgeries.
Sight savers, an International Development Organization which works with partners to eliminate avoidable blindness has partnered with the gender ministry to offer free eye care services to the elderly persons using pay points, gazetted places where elderly persons come access their regular monthly finances.