Cataract is a major cause of visual impairment globally, affecting 15.2 million people who are blind, and another 78.8 million who have moderate or severe visual impairment. This study was designed to explore factors that influence the uptake of surgery offered to patients with operable cataract in a free-of-charge, community-based eye health programme.
In this qualitative analysis, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with patients and health care providers in rural Zambia, Kenya and Uganda during 2018–2019. Two major themes emerged: (1) surgery enablers, including a desire to regain control of their lives, the positive testimonies of others, family support, as well as free surgery, medication and food; and (2) barriers to surgery, including cultural and social factors, as well as the inadequacies of the healthcare delivery system. Our analysis shows that cultural, social and health system realities impact decisions made by patients about cataract surgery uptake.
This study highlights the importance of demand segmentation and improving the quality of services, based on patients’ expectations and needs, as strategies for increasing cataract surgery uptake.