Cataracts have consistently been listed as the major cause of avoidable blindness taking 47 percent of the total causes. The prevalence of blindness in children is about ten times lower as compared to that in adults. Childhood blindness remains a high priority because of the expected number of years to be lived in blindness. Bearing in mind that about half of the WHO estimated 1.4 million cases of blindness in children below the age of 5 could have been avoided, Standard Chartered Bank made a decision to lead the way in the fight against avoidable blindness.
Trachoma is the second largest cause of blindness in Kenya. It is a condition of poverty and affects communities that have poor water supplies and sanitation as well as poor health services. Northern Laikipia is one of the areas in Kenya with a high Trachoma prevalence rate. In the initial years, the bank funded surgical eye camps in Ol Malo. Standard Chartered also donated Kshs.1 million towards the eye camps and a further Kshs.2million for the construction of a dam. Through the provision of clean water, the Bank hoped to achieve a long term solution and hopefully eradicate Trachoma in this area.
Standard Chartered also launched a Trachoma intervention project in Siangan village, Samburu District. Samburu is another area with high incidences of Trachoma especially among children. The project involved prevention through education, provision of clean water and environmental improvement as well as cure through surgery and administration of antibiotics.
Through the proceeds of the Nairobi Marathon, in partnership with Christian Blind Mission, the Bank has since 2007 sponsored cataract, glaucoma and trauma related surgeries for needy children under the age of nine at five hospitals country wide. These are:
• Kikuyu Eye Hospital,
• Kwale District Eye Centre, and Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre, both at the Coast;
• Sabatia Eye Hospital in Western Kenya; and
• Tenwek Hospital Eye Unit in the Rift Valley.