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The Technical Feasibility of Integrating Primary Eye Care Into Primary Health Care Systems in Nigeria: Protocol for a Mixed Methods Cross-Sectional Study

Background Approximately 90% of the 253 million blind or visually impaired people worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries. Lack of access to eye care is why most people remain or become blind. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO) recently launched a primary eye care (PEC) package for sub-Saharan Africa—the WHO-AFRO PEC package—for integration into the health system at the primary health care (PHC) level. This has the potential to increase access to eye care, but feasibility studies are needed to determine the extent to which the health system has the capacity to deliver the package in PHC facilities. Objective Our objective is to assess the technical feasibility of integrating the WHO-AFRO PEC package in PHC facilities in Nigeria. Methods This study has several components, which include (1) a literature review of PEC in sub-Saharan Africa, (2) a Delphi exercise to reach consensus among experts regarding the technical complexity of the WHO-AFRO PEC package and the capacities needed to deliver it in PHC facilities, (3) development of PEC technical capacity assessment tools, and (4) data collection, including facility surveys and semistructured interviews with PHC staff and their supervisors and village health workers to determine the capacities available to deliver PEC in PHC facilities. Analysis will identify opportunities and the capacity gaps that need to be addressed to deliver PEC. Results Consensus was reached among experts regarding the technical complexity of the WHO-AFRO PEC package and the capacities needed to deliver it as part of PHC. Quantitative tools (ie, structured questionnaires, in-depth interviews, and observation checklists) and topic guides based on agreed-upon technical capacities have been developed and relevant stakeholders have been identified. Surveys in 48 PHC facilities and interviews with health professionals and supervisors have been undertaken. Capacity gaps are being analyzed. Conclusions This study will determine the capacity of PHC centers to deliver the WHO-AFRO PEC package as an integral part of the health system in Nigeria, with identification of capacity gaps. Although capacity assessments have to be context specific, the tools and findings will assist policy makers and health planners in Nigeria and similar settings, who are considering implementing the package, in making informed choices. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) DERR1-10.2196/17263

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Journal Article
Aghaji A
Burchett H
Hameed S
Webster J
Gilbert C
Year of Publication
JMIR Research Protocols
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