Of the first intake of community based eye worker screeners taken on in 2008 by Jonga Trust, all have found either formal employment or been career pathed. With a 38% of unemployment in South Africa this program has proved itself as a foundation phase for those who have passed grade 12, but have no chance of employment or a stable future. It provides an invaluable eye care service for underprivileged communities and health services are now provided within their own communities by young people from the community, who understand the culture and speak their language. An important factor as South Africa has 11 official languages.
The need for eye health services is enormous. The current strike of people being screened and then referred further for formal refraction is 98%. In the Western Cape Province, 78% of clients referred for cataract surgery to the high volume cataract units come from the Jonga Trust community based eye care worker screening service.
In 2010 the physical number of community based eye screen workers was increased from 18 to 24. Included is Jonga Trusts first disabled community based worker who had both hands maimed in a mining accident and then became unemployed. He proved to be invaluable during the recent research study project for the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB study – to be published in 2011).