More than 800 children have been fitted with glasses to correct their vision thanks to the Peek Botswana school screening programme.
During the project, which was integrated with the Botswana Government’s Expanded Programme on Immunizations (EPI) school health programme, a total of 12,877 children had their eyes tested at 49 schools with Peek School Screening apps and software.
Peek Botswana is a partnership between Peek and Seeing is Believing (Standard Chartered Bank Botswana), Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), Botswana Ministry of Education (MoE), Botswana Optometrists Association (BOA), and Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP).
The Good Hope District Health Management Team delivered and supervised the screenings in collaboration with Peek Botswana partners from August 3-19.
A total of 36 nurses, seven health care assistants, six volunteers from Tirelo Sechaba (the Botswana national service programme), 23 health education assistants, 48 school heads, 55 heads of departments, 60 guidance and counselling teachers, and eight EPI supervisor nurses were trained to carry out the tests.
When a child is identified with visual impairment the Peek system auto-generates a referral to the optometrist triage team and/or hospital and sends a personalised SMS to the parent and a list of children in that school to the head teacher or key contact for the school. Automated SMS reminders are sent to non-attenders.
As a result of the Botswana programme, 848 children required refractive services which were provided by the MoHW and BOA. An additional 93 children required medication and 63 required ophthalmic services which are being provided at Good Hope Hospital and Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole.
There are 15,000 blind Batswana and 35,000 visually impaired, and the country has experienced an increase in the prevalence of blindness in recent years the proportion of Botswana has experienced an increase in blindness prevalence from 3.7% in 2007 to 5.4% in 2014.
Ryan Littman-Quinn, Peek Botswana Country Manager and Peek Trainer, said: “It was brilliant to see the smiles on the schoolchildren’s faces as they put on their spectacles for the first time. It’s a great result to not only find the children who need their vision to be corrected but to make sure they are properly fitted with glasses and that they actually use them. Hopefully their lessons will be a bit easier now.
“The Peek Botswana programme shows how much can be achieved in a short time by involving a team of partners and that teachers and other non-medics can be successfully trained to use Peek tools.”
The Peek Botswana project is a key component of the MoH National Eye Health Strategy and aligns with the MoH National eHealth Strategy. It also builds upon The VISION 2020 LINK between Botswana and Addenbrooke’s Abroad and the Pono Letlotlo eye health capacity building initiatives. Peek Botswana partners celebrated the success of the first phase of a 4-phase national school screening programme which aims to provide every child in Botswana to vision services, and all partners reaffirmed their commitment to the national scale at the celebration event.