Dr Andrew Blaikie (Senior Lecturer Global health) and Mr William J Williams (Optometrist & Developer of the ‘Arclight’ device) visited the central region of Malawi in March 2015 for 5 working days.
Introduction of a novel solar powered low cost combined ophthalmoscope/otoscope (‘Arclight’) to the central region of Malawi
In collaboration with the national eye coordinator, the department for non-communicable diseases and local ENT and Eye Care providers 600 Arclights were distributed to health care workers throughout the Central Region of Malawi. Health care workers and students from a range of primary, secondary, and tertiary care level settings were given two devices each along with a brief educational package covering the key causes of visual and hearing impairment in Sub-Saharan Africa (see summary table below). The key benefit to the people of Malawi is prevention of unnecessary blindness and hearing impairment.
Participating health professionals were asked for feedback on their current access to similar devices and their impression of the usefulness of the ‘Arclight’ devices via paper based questionnaires and recorded interviews. This process aims to inform the development of further distribution exercises in the Northern and Southern regions planned over the next 12 months.
While distributing ‘Arclight’ devices throughout the Central Region Dr Blaikie and Mr Williams were able to deliver educational packages on eye and ear examination with a focus on the most common diseases of the region. Prevention and treatment of blindness and hearing impairment was emphasised. Images of the clinical signs of serious diabetic retinopathy and ear conditions were discussed and referral criteria for treatment explained. The package was delivered to over 300 health care professionals and students in a range of settings from large tertiary referral centers in Lilongwe to small rural clinics.
Arclight website: http://arclightscope.com