Key informant method in Africa

3 of 5 children in a single family with cataract and microphthalmos, who were operated on after ICEH research estimated that there were 12,000 cataract blind children in Bangladesh.

Caption: A family of cataract blind children (who also had small eyes) were identified and had surgery after ICEH research estimated that there were 12,000 cataract blind children in Bangladesh.

Information to provide accessible and appropriate services for children with disabilities

In  developing countries children with disabilities are often untreated. Data on causes are limited, little is known about the impact disabilities have on children and their families, nor on their health seeking behaviour and barriers to accessing services. This information is needed for planning accessible and appropriate services.

In 2001 we developed a novel, cost effective method of identifying blind children in rural Bangladesh, in which local volunteers are trained as Key Informants. Using this methodology our research estimated that 12,000 children were blind from cataract but there was only one trained paediatric eye surgeon. In response, the Bangladesh Childhood Cataract Campaign was launched by the NGOs. Over a five-year period, 32,600 blind children were traced and 25,000 cataract operations were performed. Eight Child Eye Care Centres are now functional.

In 2006, a pilot study was carried out in Malawi which tested the Key Informant Method (KIM) and found evidence that they could be effective way of identifying blind children in the community and that additional work was needed to determine who are the most effective key informants in a community

From 2008 onwards,  projects by the Child Sight Foundation and the International Centre for Evidence in Disability have further developed KIM to identify children with other disabilities such as deafness; physical impairments and epilepsy.


We gratefully acknowledge the funders of our KIM research:


  • Bedford J, Mackey S, Parvin A, Muhit M, Murthy GV. Reasons for non-uptake of referral: children with disabilities identified through the Key Informant Method in Bangladesh. Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Mar 13. Abstract
  • Kalua K, Ng’ongola RT, Mbewe F, Gilbert C. Using primary health care (PHC) workers and key informants for community based detection of blindness in children in Southern Malawi. Hum Resour Health. 2012 Sep 27;10(1):37. Article
  • Nesbitt RC, Mackey S, Kuper H, Muhit M, Murthy GV. Predictors of referral uptake in children with disabilities in Bangladesh – Exploring barriers as a first step to improving referral provision. Disabil Rehabil. 2011 Dec 3.  Abstract
  • Mackey S, Murthy GV, Muhit MA, Islam JJ, Foster A. Validation of the Key Informant Method to identify children with disabilities: methods and results from a pilot study in Bangladesh. J Trop Pediatr. 2011 Nov 12. Abstract
  • Demissie BS, Solomon AW. Magnitude and causes of childhood blindness and severe visual impairment in Sekoru District, Southwest Ethiopia: a survey using the key informant method. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2011 Sep;105(9):507-11. Abstract
  • Razavi H, Kuper H, Rezvan F, Amelie K, Mahboobi-Pur H, Oladi MR, Muhit M, Hashemi H. Prevalence and causes of severe visual impairment and blindness among children in the Lorestan province of Iran, using the key informant method. Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 2010 Mar;17(2):95-102. Abstract
  • Gona JK, Xiong T, Muhit MA, Newton CR, Hartley S. Identification of people with disabilities using participatory rural appraisal and key informants: A pragmatic approach with action potential promoting validity and low cost. Disabil Rehabil. 2009 Jun 1:1-7. Abstract
  • Kalua K, Patel D, Muhit M, Courtright P. Productivity of key informants for identifying blind children: Evidence from a pilot study in Malawi. Eye (Lond). 2009 Jan;23(1):7-9. Epub 2008 Mar 14. Abstract
  • Kalua K, Patel D, Muhit M, Courtright P. Causes of blindness among children identified through village key informants in Malawi. Can J Ophthalmol 2008 Aug;43(4):425-7. Abstract
  • Muhit MA, Shah SP, Gilbert CE, Hartley SD, Foster A. The key informant method: a novel means of ascertaining blind children in Bangladesh. Br J Ophthalmol 2007; 91(8):995-999. Article
  • Muhit M., Shah S. and Gilbert CE. Causes of severe visual impairment and blindness Bangladesh: a study of 1935 children. Brit J Ophthalmol. 2007 91 1,000-04. Abstract

Find out more

Contact us for more information on our research.

Find out more about the Key Informant Method from the International Centre for Evidence in Disability.