Original Research

Vision screening as part of the school health policy in South Africa from the perspective of school health nurses

Thokozile I. Metsing, Wanda E. Jacobs, Rekha Hansraj
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3172 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3172 | © 2022 Ingrid T. Metsing | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 August 2021 | Published: 07 February 2022

About the author(s)

Thokozile I. Metsing, Discipline of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Wanda E. Jacobs, Discipline of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Rekha Hansraj, Discipline of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Vision screenings of school-going children are essential in the early detection of visual anomalies common in different age categories, which may negatively affect their academic ability and social development. Hence, their inclusion in school health policies is imperative. The aim of this study was to assess the implementation of vision screening protocols in the current Integrated School Health Screening policy of South Africa from the perspective of school health personnel.

Aim: The study sought to explore the perceptions, experiences and attitudes of the school health nurses on vision screenings included as part of the school health screenings in Gauteng province (South Africa).

Setting: This study was located across three public healthcare facilities across Gauteng at primary healthcare levels.

Methods: Three teams of 13 school health personnel from three primary healthcare facilities in the district of Ekurhuleni were invited to participate in the study. Focus group interviews were conducted for generating information on collective opinions and the rationale behind their views.

Results: Results of the collected qualitative data revealed challenges related to training, vision screening tests, referral criteria and follow-ups or referral pathways. In addition, further challenges reported were related to communication, time, space and consent forms not signed by the parents.

Conclusion: Improved cohesion and communication between all role players will enable reasonable and professional provision of validated vision screening services that have the best chance of early detection of children with vision anomalies to negate possible adverse effects on their scholarly performance.


Keywords

vision screening; school health policy; school performance; school-going age; visual acuity; accommodative dysfunctions; school health nurse; optometrists; academic performance; Department of Health

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