Asia Pacific (English)

ORBIS Completes Advanced Ophthalmic Training Program in Central Vietnam

Hue City, Central Vietnam – April 20, 2012 – Today marks the completion of the FedEx-sponsored ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program in Central Vietnam, where more than 126 Vietnamese eye care professionals’ participated in an extensive eye care skills-exchange program. The three-week program took place on board the Flying Eye Hospital – a converted DC-10 aircraft and the world’s only ophthalmic surgical and training hospital with wings –at Da Nang Eye Hospital and Hue Eye Hospital. During the program, nearly 186 people were screened or received treatment – over 37 percent of them were children under 16.

The skills-exchange program focused on the leading causes of blindness and key eye health issues in Vietnam, including subspecialty ophthalmic care, specifically pediatric eye diseases, cataract, glaucoma, oculoplastics and retina. ORBIS volunteer ophthalmologists, nurses and anesthesiologists worked side-by-side with Vietnamese eye care professionals to provide hands-on training to over 126 participants.

“ORBIS and the Flying Eye Hospital are thrilled to be back in Vietnam,” said Dr. Carlos Solarte, Medical Director, ORBIS. ORBIS sees the Flying Eye Hospital as a platform to for Volunteer Faculty to exchange skills, technology and education to local medical professionals,” Solarte continued. “Twenty four ORBIS specialists worked on teaching cases side-by-side Vietnamese eye care professionals sharing skills and knowledge that we hope will be used to further their work to prevent avoidable blindness in their local communities.”

According to Dr. Thanh Chi, Head of The Pediatric Ophthalmology Department at Da Nang Eye Hospital, who has been working with ORBIS since 2006, the doctors and the hospital observed much larger impacts than just the number of surgery cases during the program. “By working together with top specialists from ORBIS and their impressive cadre of Volunteer Faculty, we were able to learn and apply the skills and knowledge needed to provide treatment to a larger number of patients. The ORBIS training programs provide a unique and wonderful opportunity for us to learn and improve upon skills around patient care, overall eye care and disease management.”

“It has been a very meaningful and successful relationship with ORBIS and our local organizations. FedEx is very happy our work together is helping improved the lives of millions of people around the world in general and in Vietnam in particular who otherwise would have suffered blindness by now receive the gift of sight,” said Mr. Binh Nguyen, chief representative of FedEx Vietnam, Senior Manager of FedEx Indochina and Vietnam.

ORBIS and FedEx – 30 Years of Delivering Sight Worldwide

2012 marks 30 years of working collaboration between FedEx and ORBIS. FedEx has committed its unparalleled networks, dedicated employees and vast aviation expertise to assist ORBIS in delivering the gift of sight to countless individuals throughout the developing world. In 2011, FedEx renewed a USD$5.5 million, five-year commitment made to ORBIS in 2006, which includes the extension of the FedEx Fellows Program – an opportunity for local, talented doctors to receive the continuing medical education needed to address leading causes of avoidable blindness within their country and region.

FedEx has taken its commitment to the next level with the donation of an MD-10 cargo aircraft to ORBIS to be converted into the third-generation, state-of-the-art Flying Eye Hospital. ORBIS benefits from the unparalleled FedEx global network and aviation expertise to help the Flying Eye Hospital take flight. FedEx pilots volunteer to fly the ORBIS DC-10 to many of its medical programs and train other volunteer pilots. FedEx team members around the world volunteer as interpreters, escorting patients to and from their surgeries, and assisting with patient screenings. FedEx also donates transportation services to move critically needed medical supplies to ORBIS clinics and programs worldwide. FedEx mechanics also provide maintenance support for the aircraft, and manage the annual safety checks for ORBIS’s flagship Flying Eye Hospital.

Facts on the Prevention of Blindness:

On a global scale, 285 million people are visually impaired, of which 80 percent can be prevented or treated. Approximately 90 percent of all visually impaired people live in developing countries. The areas of significant global prevention progress include:

  • Further development of eye health care services, which has led to increased availability 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; and
  • Implementation of effective eye health strategies to eliminate infectious causes of vision loss.

Prevalence of Blindness in Vietnam

Vietnam has achieved significant progress in improving health status in recent years, particularly in terms of blindness prevention and control with the blindness prevalence reduced in the community from 0.63 percent in 2000 to 0.59 percent in 2007. Cataract is the leading cause of avoidable blindness and can be cured with simple, inexpensive surgery. However, as most quality eye care professionals are based in larger cities or urban areas and due to economic difficulties, many people are unable to receive timely access to quality eye care services. Pediatric blindness prevention is a major area of focus in Vietnam, where the leading causes of avoidable blindness among children are cataract, strabismus, uncorrected refractive errors and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition that can affect babies who are born prematurely.