Can we scale up a comprehensive school-based eye health programme in Zambia?
Globally, 19 million children suffer from preventable vision impairment due to a lack of access to eye-health services. In Zambia, around 50,000 schoolchildren require eyeglasses. The School-based Eye Health Programme (SEHP) is an effective approach to combat childhood blindness, that the Zambian government aims to expand. This scalability assessment evaluates the essential components of SEHP, assesses existing capacities, identifies enabling and inhibiting factors, and estimates required resources for scale-up. The assessment found that incorporating additional components into Zambia's SEHP model enhanced its credibility and relevance. The resource team demonstrated competence during the pilot project, and political changes, lack of a supply chain, and unstable funding were identified as inhibiting factors. SEHP's objectives aligned with the National Eye Health Strategic Plan, supporting its integration into the existing School Health and Nutrition Programme, suggesting replicating SEHP in another district. The assessment concluded that scaling up the comprehensive SEHP in Zambia is feasible with sufficient funding. It emphasized adapting the approach to the local context, institutionalizing SEHP within existing programs for government funding, but challenges include lack of local political commitment. Continued efforts, such as engagement with the government and strong advocacy, are essential for successful integration.