GUANGZHOU , June 11, 2012– Today, ORBIS’s Flying Eye Hospital (FEH) – the world’s only ophthalmic surgical and training hospital with wings – launched a comprehensive eye care program, in Guangzhou , China . The FedEx-sponsored FEH program aims to lay the foundation for developing a referral network of rural hospitals that will have the capacity to deliver comprehensive eye care services with the long-term support of specialists from Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center (ZOC) and Guangzhou Children’s Hospital. During the two-week program in Guangzhou , Flying Eye Hospital staff, county level doctors, nurses and technicians will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with leading international specialists and experts from ZOC and Guangzhou Children’s Hospital. They will also participate in skills-exchange programs and seminars aimed at improving the quality of available eye care services.
“Since the first visit of the FEH to Guangzhou 30 years ago, ZOC has become a leading center of ophthalmic excellence and we are happy to be able to bring the FEH program back to Guangzhou to celebrate our collaboration and continue our commitment to strengthening the capacity of eye care professionals and services throughout China,” said David Johnson, Flying Eye Hospital Director. “ With the generous support of FedEx, our long-term global sponsor, and working together with our host partners, the FEH program will help launch a five-year program aimed at establishing a network of comprehensive vision care in Guangdong Province , while continuing our high-level pediatric eye care skills exchange in Guangzhou .”
This continued partnership with ZOC marks a 30-year collaboration to eliminate global blindness, as the ZOC was the host of one of the inaugural Flying Eye Hospital programs in 1982. Working with ZOC, a leading tertiary training and research institution in China and with Guangzhou Children’s Hospital, the biggest children’s hospital in southern China , the FEH program will focus on glaucoma, retina disease and pediatric ophthalmology, the key components of the new, long-term project Comprehensive Rural Eye Service Training (CREST).
This will be the 38th Flying Eye Hospital program in China and the second time the plane is visiting Guangzhou . ORBIS has supported programs in Guangdong Province for 30 years, and its new, long-term project, the Comprehensive Rural Eye Service Training (CREST) program in collaboration with ZOC, is aimed at establishing a network of comprehensive pediatric and adult vision care in the province. The program provides an opportunity to celebrate the long-term partnership between ORBIS and ZOC. In addition, the FEH program will allow ORBIS to continue to work with other local partners in the Province. Alongside experts from the Guangzhou Children’s Hospital, the FEH program will seek to improve the delivery of quality pediatric eye care service while engaging rural doctors in basic screening and management of complex eye diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
The primary training subspecialties of the program in Guangzhou include: advanced surgical retina, basic medical retina, advanced and basic glaucoma, basic strabismus, pediatric oculoplastics, pediatric cataract and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which will have a dedicated international conference at the conclusion of the two weeks. The ROP conference will bring together key thought leaders and practitioners from China and the region, and allow participants to share their experiences in establishing a standard approach to screening and treatment. In addition, it will help support ORBIS partners in China in an upcoming project to establish a nationwide network to address the growing problem of ROP in the country.
As part of a global initiative to combat preventable and treatable blindness, and in support of ORBIS’s skills exchange program approach, FedEx will continue its fellowship program and award and sponsor a fellowship to a promising ophthalmologist to study at a leading global eye institute. The FedEx Fellow initiative began in 2006, and has since awarded fellowships to ophthalmologists from countries including Cambodia , the Dominican Republic , India , Kenya , Peru , the Philippines , and Vietnam .
“For the past three decades, FedEx has helped the ORBIS Flying Eye Care Hospital program improve the skills of eye care professionals around the world, by providing and training volunteer pilots to fly the plane, sponsoring fellowship programs for promising ophthalmologists and opening the door to our unparalleled aviation expertise, ” said Eddy Chan, senior vice president, FedEx China . “FedEx has supported ORBIS and the Flying Eye Hospital since the first program in Guangzhou in 1982 and we are very proud to be part of and to celebrate the FEH’s return 30 years later.”
ORBIS in China
In 1999 ORBIS International opened its first country office in China , signaling the ORBIS commitment to working with the Ministry of Health and local partners in building sight saving capacity throughout the country. Since that time ORBIS and its local partners have accomplished the following:
· Over 30 million individuals have received eye education and screening
· Over 3 million children and adults have been given surgery and other treatment
· Over 20,000 doctors have been provided with in depth training by ORBIS volunteer faculty and partners in every sub-specialty in over 30 provinces
· Over 25,000 nurses, biomedical engineers, anesthesiologists, and health care workers have been trained.
· 37 FEH missions throughout China have been supported by ORBIS global volunteer faculty. These missions are a vital platform for strengthening advocacy and promoting clinical excellence.
· Over 100 hospital-based programs have been conducted by world renowned volunteer faculty
· The first FEH was donated to the National Aviation Museum .
Blindness in China
China accounts for 18 percent of the world’s blind, and of the one million children suffering from blindness in Asia, approximately 400,000 live in China . The eye care needs of communities and the challenges they face vary across provinces, but at the national level, the major causes of blindness reflect global trends and include: cataract, glaucoma and retinal disease. China has the highest rate of myopia among children in the world and some of the 90 percent of poor vision among China ’s children is due to uncorrected refractive error. Only about 50 percent of the estimated 22,000 eye doctors in China can perform cataract surgery and most surgically active ophthalmologists are located in urban areas. Although cataract remains the leading cause of vision disability in China , accounting for 40 percent of blindness, glaucoma - the second-leading cause of blindness in China , and diabetic eye disease are now rapidly rising. Only 10 percent of patients with diabetic eye disease in rural China are diagnosed and treated.
Despite recent industrial growth and economic expansion in its capital city, Guangzhou , Guangdong Province has the second highest blindness rate in China . Problems with accessibility, affordability, variety and quality of eye care services are reflected in the major gaps between urban and rural areas. There are 753,000 visually disabled people in the Province according to the 2009-2010 Blindness Prevention Plan, Guangdong and some 22% of children aged three to seven suffer from impaired vision. Despite the growing need for pediatric eye care services, the availability of pediatric ophthalmologists in Guangzhou and throughout the province is limited.
ORBIS and FedEx – Delivering Sight Worldwide
FedEx has supported ORBIS for 30 years, providing millions of dollars of cash and in-kind contributions. In 2011, FedEx renewed a USD $5.5 million, five-year commitment made to ORBIS in 2006. It includes the extension of the FedEx Fellows Program that provides an opportunity for talented local doctors to receive the continuing medical education needed to address leading causes of avoidable blindness within their countries.
ORBIS benefits from the unparalleled FedEx global network and its aviation expertise to help the Flying Eye Hospital remain aloft. FedEx Express pilots volunteer to fly the ORBIS DC-10 to many of its medical programs and train other volunteer pilots, FedEx Express mechanics provide maintenance support, and FedEx Express team members around the world volunteer as part of the ORBIS humanitarian team as interpreters, welcoming and escorting patients to and from their surgeries, and assisting with patient screenings. FedEx also provides complimentary transportation services to move critically needed medical supplies to ORBIS clinics and programs worldwide, makes the FedEx Express flight training simulator available to train volunteer pilots, and supports annual safety checks for ORBIS’ flagship Flying Eye Hospital .
Facts on the Prevention of Blindness Worldwide:
On a global scale, 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide, while 80 percent of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured. Approximately 90 percent of all visually impaired people live in developing countries. Areas of significant global progress in the prevention of avoidable blindness include:
· Further development of eye health care services, which has led to increased access and affordability
· Increased commitment to prevention and cure from national leaders, medical professionals and private and corporate partners
· Higher awareness and use of eye health care services by patients and the general population
· Implementation of effective eye health strategies to eliminate infectious causes of vision loss.
About ORBIS International
ORBIS International is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. ORBIS prevents and treats blindness through hands-on training, public health education, improved access to quality eye care, and partnerships with local health care organizations in an effort to eliminate avoidable blindness. By building their long-term capabilities, ORBIS helps its partner institutions take action to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible, and sustainable. To learn more about ORBIS, please visit www.ORBIS.org.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $42 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.