Kenyan Cataract Project 2012

Last year a very successful Eye Clinic project was launched in Habaswein in the northern region of Kenya. This was made possible through HARDA who obtained a generous grant from Muslim Aid Australia and the combined efforts of Dr Mohamud Sheikh, Patron of WARDA (the Waso Resource and Development Agency) a local community based NGO and opthalmologists from Doctors for Hope (a Kenyan-based organisation of medical professionals who donate their time to conduct medical and surgical services in some of the most remote and arid areas in Kenya).

One of the outcomes from this Clinic was the realisation that more Clinics could be made possible if WARDA had their own Microscope that was transportable so that they did not have to rely on borrowing one from the hospital when it was able to be made available.

With the desire to run another Clinic this year and in discussions with Dr Mohamud Sheikh, HARDA was approached by a donor, the Clark Family Foundation (which is administered by Perpetual Philanthropic Services). The Foundation offered to fund the cost of a suitable microscope that was transportable and could be used on numerous occasions in different locations throughout the province. After detailed research, a suitable microscope was located in South Australia and sent to WARDA in Nairobi in time for another Eye Clinic that was taking place again in Habaswein in May.

Fiona Carr, Policy Project Officer for HARDA, travelled to Kenya and joined Georgina Clark in Garissa. During Fiona’s stay in Garissa, both she and Georgina Clark worked voluntarily in the WARDA office.     When the Eye Clinic took place, both of them travelled to Habeswein as observers, along with Dr Mohamud Sheikh and other WARDA employees.

The Eye Clinic, which was set up in the Habaswein Rural District Hospital, provided free primary eye care and targeted those who were most at risk, including the elderly, people with disabilities and children from refugee and nomadic pastoralist groups who are isolated in remote communities and do not have access to medical treatment and are unable to afford it. Over 4 days 557 identified beneficiaries were transported to the Hospital and provided screening, eye care health education and treatment, 86 of whom received cataract surgery, which restored their vision. The surgical patients were provided with post-operative care. Within one day of surgery, the patient’s vision was repaired, which enabled them to resume fully functioning and productive lives.

The “state of the art” microscope (as it was described) was a great success. As reported by Fiona, “The Doctors could not stop raving about how wonderful it was”. The Doctors also mentioned that it enabled them to carry out more operations than the microscopes used previously because they were able to work more quickly on each operation (due to the quality of the microscope). This also provided less risk of infection for the patients.

HARDA is delighted with this outcome.