By Fru Rita Ngum
The CBC Health Service has for six years now provided Low Vision Services to over 250 people with Low Vision, largely with the screening of children with Low vision in the CBC Integrated School for the Blind (ISFB) in Kumbo. Before 2011 when the Low Vision Services started, most of the children in the school for the Blind were not screened. The children with visual impairments and those with low vision studied in the same school using the same medium of learning. This posed a lot of difficulties for children with low vision because they had to use the blind techniques to study thereby struggling to touch (brail) and to see since their vision is not totally lost. This affected their performance.
To solve the problem, an assessment was done during which children with low vision were screened and devices were prescribed to them with training on how to use the devices and this significantly improved on their performance in their community and school. This went down in the history of the CBCHS as a success story worth sharing with other practitioners of low vision services nationally and internationally
In July 2017, a 5 day conference on low vision took place in Hague in Netherlands on the theme, “Low vision rehabilitation, a global right”. The conference had as objective to stimulate scientific research in the field of low vision and rehabilitation of people with low vision and to promote and exchange ideas on these fields.
With her rich experience in the provision of low vision services, the CBC Health Services through its Low Vision Therapist, Mr. Kenchi Joseph submitted two abstracts to the Netherlands Conference which was accepted in April 2017. During the plenary session to award the travel grant, the President of the International Society of Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation in Netherlands disclosed that the selection of the abstracts were based on content and quality which that of CBCHS met up with the selection criteria.
The Low Vision Therapist, Mr. kenchi made a presentation on children and visual impairment titled, “Helping children with Low Vision maximize use of vision to improve their studies; case School for the Blind, Cameroon”. He highlighted that designing and establishing school vision screening programs facilitates early identification of children with low vision and prompt initiation of support in view of improving their participation in education.
Given that the CBCHS is the lone institution providing Low Vision Services at Banso Baptist Hospital, Mr. Kenchi also dwelled on barriers to uptake of Low Vision Services in Cameroon: Case Study of Banso Baptist Hospital. He noted that high cost of low vision devices, myths surrounding low vision that it cannot be treated, long distances from other parts of Cameroon to Banso act as barriers to the uptake of low vision services. These setbacks, he lamented, still put the prevalence in the NWR at 41,000 people with low vision.
In an interview with Fru Rita Ngum, SEEPD Communication Officer, Mr. Kenchi said the outcome of the conference will continue to improve on the quality of life for people with low vision given that the conference was attended by practitioners with diverse experiences. He noted that as a measure to overcome the challenges, the CBCHS will continue to educate the public on the low vision services, advocate to the manufactures of the devices to produce attractive and adaptive ones and the need to subsidize the devices so that people with low vision will be able to acquire them.
The abstracts submitted to the conference was compiled by a team comprised Kenchi Joseph, Jengwia Johnson Lucha, Dr. Beri Ngong and Awa Jacques. According to WHO reports, 2% of the world’s population has low vision