In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, Lady Health Workers (LHWs) have been tasked with screening for some eye health issues but the uptake of referrals to health facilities has been low.
Using qualitative methodology, this study explores the role of LHWs in referral and the barriers to patient compliance. It shows that disorganised and poor-quality care at the facility level eroded the community’s trust and limited access to eye care. Poverty, deep-rooted gender inequities, and lack of transportation were other reasons for non-compliance.
This study highlights that LHWs have the potential to reduce unmet eye health needs, but only if they are supported by the rest of the health system through clear referral pathways and good communication.