In a significant achievement for the country's eye health sector, Kenya's Vision Impact Project (VIP) has reached a meaningful milestone. In just one year, one million people’s vision has been tested using a smartphone app, which is powerful yet simple to use. The ambitious health systems strengthening project is improving access to quality eye health services for over five million people. The 1M milestone offers a hopeful glimpse of ending preventable blindness in Kenya.
The project, powered by Peek Vision technology, is led by CBM and the Kenyan Ministry of Health, and funded by CBM and BMZ. It is aligned with Kenya's National Eye Health Strategic Plan, Kenya's Vision 2030 and the WHO's vision priorities. Launched in June 2022, the VIP targets 10 counties across the nation. To date, seven counties - Bomet, Embu, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kwale, Meru, and Vihiga - are live.
In its first year, the project connected over 150,000 people to eyecare services. Over 700 screeners have been trained to use Peek’s clinically-validated vision testing app. By moving health workers closer to the communities they serve and using near real-time data to spot gaps in the system, such as people not turning up for their referral appointments due to barriers with travel, the VIP is reaching thousands of Kenyans who may have gone without treatment. The project is making a noticeable difference at a personal level but also at a systems level by strengthening the network; to date over 450 health facilities, almost 2000 schools, and more than 580 community health units across the seven counties have been connected. This means that fewer people will ‘fall out of the system’ as they make their journey to care.
Faith Langat, Programme Manager at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet County, shared how Peek has transformed the management of their outreach programs. “Before Peek, the uncertainty about turnout for our outreach camps had significant consequences on resources and trust within the community. Now, I see timely data from the community screeners, and I know how many patients have been referred. It allows us to plan with clarity, ensuring we can provide quality services tailored to the patients we expect. Peek has been a total game-changer for us.”
The VIP has the potential to reverse the growing trend of vision loss in Kenya - a country where less than 25% of the 7.5 million people that need eye health services can access them. The achievement is even more remarkable considering that there is only one ophthalmologist per million people in Kenya.
Dr. Michael Gichangi, the Head of the Ophthalmic Services Unit at the Ministry of Health, lauded the project, stating, "Using Peek technology, we have been able to screen over a million Kenyans in communities and schools. The Vision Impact Project is a very cost-effective and worthwhile investment for us here in Kenya."
Dr. Hillary Rono, opthalmolgist and Kenya Country Director for Peek, enthusiastically reflected on the milestone, "Our journey has been both challenging and deeply rewarding. Reaching a million Kenyans, is a powerful testament to the relentless dedication of everyone involved with the VIP and the effectiveness of Peek technology. We are not just screening; we are connecting communities, schools, and healthcare facilities, reducing barriers to access, and ensuring that no one is left behind in our quest for universal eye health coverage. As we move forward, our sights are set on reaching even more people and making eye health a priority for every Kenyan."
The Vision Impact Project is proof of the transformative power of strategic partnerships and innovative technology. As it paves the way for national scaling and broader health system strengthening, the hope is that VIP will continue to catalyze positive change in eye health services across Kenya.