KAP of traditional healers on treatment of eye diseases in Kitui district of Kenya
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Objective: To establish the prevailing eye practices among traditional healers in Kitui district and establish whether these healers are able to identify ocular emergencies and refer in good time. Design: Community based qualitative survey Setting: Kitui district, Eastern Kenya Subjects: A total of 87 healers from 3 divisions of Kitui district were interviewed. Results: Seventy six (87.4%) said that they treat at least one of the eye conditions presented to them. Instillation of plant extracts into the conjuctival sac was the most preferred treatment modality and was practiced by 46(52.9%) healers for cataracts, 48(55.2%) for ocular injuries and 21(24.1%) for allergic conjunctivitis. The most commonly performed surgical procedures included rubbing the underside of the upper lid with a speciﬁ c leaf for allergic conjunctivitis with papillary reaction performed by 43 (49.4%) healers; piercing chalazia with a thorn or needle by 11(12.6%) healers and making small incisions and applying herbs for ocular swelling by 4(4.6%) healers. The most preferred treatment for chemical injury was breast milk from any breast feeding mother practiced by 29 (33.3%) healers. Small extra ocular foreign bodies are removed by introducing seed from a speciﬁ c plant in to the conjuctival sac by 51(58.6%) healers. Some healers mix traditional medicine with exorcism and rituals especially for squint as practiced by 14(16%) healers and ocular tumors by 9(10.3%) healers. The conditions the healers said they would refer included ocular tumors reported by 48(55.5%) healers, cataracts by 34(52.9%) healers, ocular injury by 30(34.5%) healers and squint by 21(24.1%) healers. Conclusion: Majority of the healers interviewed treat patients who present to them with eye diseases. Most did not refer emergencies like ocular injuries.