Task Shifting in Eastern Africa : Eye Care Services

A shortage of skilled health workers is one constraint to better healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. To cope with this shortage, African providers practice task shifting, that is, allocating healthcare roles and procedures to less specialized health workers. VISION 2020 is a global initiative that strives to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. Some proponents of VISION 2020 believe that task shifting is essential to meeting this goal. Task shifting would see general health workers providing primary eye care, nurses or health assistants providing eyelid surgery for trachomatous trichiasis, and non-physician technicians providing cataract surgery. Primary eye care is already included in the health assistants' curriculum in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda, and approximately 150 cataract and 150 trachoma surgeons have been trained since 1990. Little is known, however, about the strengths and weaknesses of this strategy, the productivity and quality of service provided, or the retention and satisfaction of the personnel involved. This study will measure the effect of enhanced supervision of general health workers, and the impact of trichiasis and cataract surgeons, on the quality of and access to eye care services in three countries. Researchers will look at visual outcomes and patient satisfaction, as well as the productivity, retention and attrition of eye care providers, and the workplace factors involved therein.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, December 18, 2009

End Date

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


36 months

IDRC Officer

Cohen, Marc

Total funding

CA$ 244,837


North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania


Maternal and Child Health

Project Leader

Michael Gichangi

Project Leader

Paul Courtright


Tumaini University

Institution Country


Institution Website