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Celebrating the results of the screening and early intervention programme funded by the ‘Finding Grace’ appeal

10 January 2020

A young girl smiling at the camera, whilst an older woman hugs her and smiles

Sense International’s pilot programme for screening and early intervention for children with deafblindness/ multi-sensory impairments (MSI) in Uganda and Kenya should be rolled out nationally and to other countries, a review of the project has found.

An independent consultant reviewed the three-year programme, during which Sense International worked with local partners to establish eight screening and early intervention units in Nairobi County, Kenya and Entebbe District, Uganda.

The programme:

  • Tested babies and children up to the age of three years old for sight and hearing impairments
  • Assessed children showing signs of sight and hearing impairments, identified those with deafblindness/ MSI and referred them for medical treatment where appropriate
  • Provided early intervention therapy for children identified with deafblindness/MSI by trained occupational therapists to enable, support and empower them and their families

The pilot programme, which took place between 2016 and 2019, was funded by Sense International’s ‘Finding Grace’ appeal and backed by the UK government through the UK Aid Match scheme.

Sense International has now launched the ‘Chance to Shine’ appeal, which aims to fund an extension of the programme to children in the counties of Kwale and Garissa in rural Kenya. Also backed by the UK government, the appeal will raise funds between January 1 and March 31 2020.

Findings of the independent evaluation

The review report found that the programme engaged key senior government health care staff to advise the project, winning their support, ownership and recognition. In Uganda, the Ministry of Health issued a directive to all health districts and hospitals to test the hearing of all children aged 0 to three years old. In Kenya, screening and early intervention was added to the revised policy of the Ministry of Education, linking it with the Ministry of Health.

The programme demonstrated effectiveness and cost efficiency of screening and early intervention services through a combination of external and government funding. Cost efficiency was also achieved through training and deploying community health volunteers as first-stage screeners, allowing more highly paid nurses to focus on second stage screening. The review also highlighted the potential cost to families, society and government of not providing early intervention for children with deafblindness/ MSI.

As a result of the programme, 292 hospital and health centre staff were trained in delivering sensory screening and early intervention services – 149 in Uganda and 143 in Kenya. A total of 90,043 children were screened for sensory impairments, 194 children received one-to-one early intervention therapy and 94.5% of parents were satisfied with the early intervention services provided.

Parents and carers were given tablets with therapy and care instructional videos relevant to their child’s needs, to work with their child at home between sessions with occupational therapists. Community health volunteers educated 28,524 people about the causes of deafblindness/ MSI, leading to greater understanding amongst the communities.

Sense International Director, Alison Marshall, said: “We are delighted with the results of our screening and early intervention programme in Kenya and Uganda and we’d like to thank everyone who donated to our ‘Finding Grace’ appeal. The earlier that children with deafblindness/ MSI are identified, the better their long-term development opportunities. This support ensures children with deafblindness/ MSI receive the support they need in their crucial early years of development.”

Visit the 'Chance to Shine' appeal page.

Find out more information about Sense International’s work in Kenya.

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019