In pursuit of the DSWT’s objective to support communities bordering the Tsavo Conservation Area through education, improved livelihoods and healthcare, a free eye and dental program was organised during the month of May with support from staff and surgeons from MEAK (Medical and Educational Aid to Kenya). This program, which was instigated for the first time during 2014, has the power to give back sight for those suffering with cataracts and address serious and debilitating dental problems.
Due to the remote areas and communities the surgical team were to be working in, as well as their time constraints, the DSWT’s field manager, James Mbuthia, alongside the Trust’s rangers spread the news far and wide that MEAK will be offering free eye and dental services. They also helped to conduct a pre-screening exercise with trained MEAK staff, who are able to diagnose the signs of many eye conditions and especially cataract, which is a clouding of the lens inside the eye that leads to a decrease in vision and sometimes blindness.
In total, 2978 patients were checked and treated for minor eye problems and given the necessary medicines. Patients were treated throughout the TCA including communities from the Chyulu Hills, Kibwezi, Muusini, Kalakalya, Metava, Kithasyo, Mikuyuni, Soto and Kaunguni villages. The team also visited Nthunguni and Ngiluni villages, which are DSWT priority areas bordering Tsavo East National Park as well as a group of desperate patients who live in remote areas of Makueni County.
Out of all these patients 51 were diagnosed with sight-altering cataracts and were successfully treated, many of whom had been blind or partially sighted for many years. The dentist team treated 168 cases during this period treating a range of complaints, ailments and long-term disorders.
This meaningful and life changing cause has received much support from both the county administration and communities around these areas. Many community members who have benefitted from these free services are extremely poor and would not have been able to get the help they needed otherwise, leaving them to suffer with debilitating yet easily remedied conditions.
Similar to last year, this program has been hugely successful, and the DSWT hopes to partner with MEAK once again in the future.
If you wish to support any of the DSWT’s Community Outreach programs we would be very grateful for any donations, which can be made through our website https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/is/donate_now.asp