Primary eye care in sub-Saharan African: do we have the evidence needed to scale up training and service delivery?

Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2010 Jul;104(5):361-7. doi: 10.1179/136485910X12743554760225.


The models for addressing the delivery of an eye-care service in sub-Saharan Africa have seen considerable revision in the last 30 years, and the on-going challenges, as well as the future needs, will probably require many more changes and new systems. There is a need to assess the different models that are currently employed, in order to ensure that all potential contributions to the elimination of avoidable blindness are used; the evolving concept of primary eye care (PEC) requires such assessment. For the current review, the published literature on eye care provided by general front-line healthworkers was screened for articles that provided evidence of the impact of such PEC on the general delivery of eye care in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 103 relevant articles detected, only three provided evidence of the effectiveness of PEC and the authors of all three of these articles suggested that such eye care was not meeting the needs or expectations of the target populations, the trainers, or programmes of eye care. Among the main problems identified were a lack of a clear definition of the scope of practice for PEC, the need for clarifying the specific skills that a front-line healthworker could perform correctly, and the changing needs and expectations for the delivery of an eye-care service in Africa. If PEC is to become adequately grounded in Africa, the generation of further evidence of the effectiveness and limitations of such care would be a prudent move.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Optometry / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*