In addition to operating a static center, UHEAL operates a mobile eye unit—a fabricated medical trailer fitted with a modern portable laser machine and other diagnostic equipment—that runs fifteen eye camps a year to screen for diabetic retinopathy and provide non-invasive procedures, eye examinations, follow-up care, and laser treatment at an affordable rate to low-income Kenyan communities. On top of this, the eye screening camps provide an opportunity for establishing a patient database. This creates a basis for better follow up, monitoring and for managing referrals.
To maximise attendance at the screening camps, "health talks" are held with the local community one month prior to each camp. There will be a special focus on involving local influencers such as religious leaders, teachers and community elderly to create a bigger impact. Furthermore, a road show is held a week before the camp to remind and attract people. Social activities such as sporting events and dramas will be held where appropriate to raise awareness.
UHEAL is also raising awareness about diabetic retinopathy by training local health workers and conducting sessions at hospitals and with diabetic support groups. The project aims at training 120 health care professionals per year. Education material on glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy will be developed for health care professionals and patients.
UHEAL’s first outreach camp took place in March 2010. Since then, UHEAL has conducted four camps every month, serving an additional 1,500 people living in poor communities.
In terms of sustainability, UHEAL has not yet been able to break even and its center continues to subsidize the cost of screening and laser treatment. The main challenge is the lack of information on the part of health workers and the public in terms of the risks of diabetes retinopathy. Many of the patients also fail to come to appointment due to an inability to pay even the subsidized fee for the laser procedure. Despite this, UHEAL is committed to making worldclass eyecare available and affordale to the diabetics at the bottom of the social pyramid in Kenya.