Date: August 22, 2014
Project in Brief
Jaffna District-wide School Children Vision Care Program
The Jaffna district school children program was inaugurated by Dr. Asela Abeydeera – Vision 2020 Secretariat Coordinator, Dr. ManagalaGamage – V2020 Focal Point for CBL and PEC, and Drs. Malaravan and Chandrakumar – National Eye Surgeons at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital on the August 22, 2014 at the Jaffna RDHS office. Present were officials from Vision2020/Ministry of Health, local officials from Jaffna district RDHS office and zonal education office, and of course the SOMS team. This program was sponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Following the kick-off meeting, Dr.Malaravan and Dr.Saravanamuththu (a retired senior medical officer who has assisted with previous SOMS programs for the Jaffna islands in 2013), assisted by SOMS program officer, trained school teachers to screen students for vision impairment in the classrooms. This training was held in 5 locations in each education zone – Vadamarachchi , Thenmarachchi, Valikamam, Islands and Jaffna town.
We trained 582 teachers from 582 schools in Jaffna district. After the training session, the teachers went back to their schools and screened the students for refractive errors and sent in the shortlists of students who had to be examined further by optometrists.
Simultaneously, the Jaffna Education Zonal Office staff and Dr. Ketheeswaran, Jaffna RDHS and his MO Planning Unit, worked with SOMS to cluster the 582 schools into several clinic stations in each education zone. Children from surrounding schools were brought daily to the clinic station by their teachers. The local MOH office staff and education zonal office staff assisted SOMS continuously.
The clinics started in the Vadamarachchi zone on March 2, 2015 with 18 Ophthalmic Technologists from the National Eye Hospital working diligently to examine the children and complete a comprehensive evaluation form. The screening continued for 15 days. In total, 6,696 children were tested by the National OTs and 1,951 glasses were prescribed eyeglasses immediately. 695 needed further evaluation at the Jaffna Hospital. Others needing to start with convergence exercises were taught these. The custom-made eyeglasses were distributed to the students starting on May 8, 2015. Each child was given a folder with a copy of their prescription and any referral notes which will be kept on the school premises to be checked for follow up during the annual school medical inspection process.