Poor Kenyans with eye ailments will benefit from a partnership between Nation Media Group and Team Pankaj Foundation.
The programme, which targets all the 47 counties, will see 20,000 patients undergo eye surgeries at the Lions SightFirst Eye Hospital, Loresho in Nairobi.
The four-year programme that will cost Sh280 million was launched at Subukia sub-county on Saturday where more than 1,500 residents received treatment and eye glasses from the foundation.
“As Nation Media Group, we are happy to partner with Team Pankaj Foundation which is doing commendable charity work in Nairobi slums. We commend them for feeding about 20,000 children in the slums," said Nation Media Group Chairman Wilfred Kiboro during the launch of the project in Subukia on Saturday.
Added Mr Kiboro: "In this grand eye project, we shall partner with Team Pankaj. A lot of people of goodwill have focused on Covid-19 but the truth of the matter is that millions of Kenyans are also suffering from other ailments like eye problems and we need to focus on them as we fight the pandemic."
He thanked Team Pankaj and other partners, including Diamond Trust Bank, for their generous donations and appealed to the corporate sector to emulate Team Pankaj and donate towards this noble cause.
"If we let everything be handled by the government which does not have enough resources to go round it might not be feasible in the long run and millions of Kenyans will continue suffering in silence," said the NMG chairman.
Subukia Level Four Hospital Medical Superintendent Judith Baraza said the free eye clinic will go a long way in resolving the eye ailments in the area.
“In Subukia, we don't have an eye unit, we often refer patients to Nyahururu or Nakuru Level Five Hospital," Ms Baraza said.
Team Pankaj leader Pankaj Shah said the project targets thousands of poor Kenyans in the rural areas who have been hard hit by the effects of Covid-19 and are unable to pay for critical cataract surgeries and other eye illnesses.
"We're hoping to reach poor Kenyans working in rural areas, we shall carry out 20,000 free cataract surgeries in all the 47 counties," said Mr Shah.
He added: "Most of the specialised treatments and Ophthalmologists are based in Nairobi where most poor rural residents cannot access."
Mr Shah said his foundation has made arrangements to facilitate the elderly to travel to Nairobi for cataract surgeries.
"Those who need urgent cataract surgeries in all the 47 counties will be taken to Lions SightFirst Eye Hospital, Loresho in Nairobi while those in Lamu County, surgeries will be done in a special facility in a hotel," said Mr Shah.
One of the beneficiaries Ms Mary Morano travelled from Eldoret to Subukia to attend the free eye clinic.
"My son saw an advertisement by Team Pankaj that called on Kenyans with eye problems to attend a free eye clinic and that is why I came to Subukia. I have been booked for a cataract surgery in Nairobi," said Ms Morano.
"I thank Team Pankaj and other stakeholders for this great initiative," said Ms Morano.