Local consultant anaesthetist, Dr Lawrence Azavedo, from Broughton, Preston, has recently returned home from a volunteer medical assignment with the international sight-saving charity ORBIS (www.orbis.org.uk), having swapped the sights of Royal Preston Hospital for the vibrancy of Kolkata, India.
ORBIS operates in some of the poorest communities in the world. They not only offer treatment to those suffering from reduced vision or blindness, but also provide training to local doctors in advanced medical techniques to ensure there is a long term improvement in eye care within the communities visited.
According to the World Health Organisation, 39 million people globally are blind but 80% could be treated or cured. 90% of these people live within developing countries where eye care facilities are often limited. The number of people suffering with preventable blindness has reached overwhelming proportions.
Many eye conditions can be treated by relatively simple, cheap and quick operations, such as that of removing a cataract. However the skill and equipment required to help are often lacking in the places where they are most at need. ORBIS works tirelessly to change this situation and over the years has helped to further educate 262,000 medical professionals.
Lawrence spent two weeks volunteering with the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, a plane which hosts a fully equipped operating theatre, laser suite and lecture theatre on-board. The consultant used his annual leave to take part in this trip and has been involved with the charity for seven years, having previously volunteered in countries such as Peru, Mongolia and Uganda.
HRH The Countess of Wessex attended the Flying Eye Hospital programme in Kolkata too, as part of a week-long tour in support the sight-saving charity. She witnessed patients undergoing life changing surgery onboard the Flying Eye Hospital and chatted with Dr Azavedo about his ORBIS volunteer experience.
Dr Lawrence Azavedo says; “I once again very much enjoyed my two week volunteer trip with ORBIS and Kolkata has been one of the best projects I have been on. The volunteer work we do is very important and being able to show the Countess of Wessex the impact we are having on local communities in the developing world, was obviously a highlight.
“I have volunteered in many developing countries and enjoy working with ORBIS as we offer the community long term improvement in eye care services. By working closely with the local doctors and nurses and providing them with educational opportunities, we can ensure a difference is made which can be still felt long after we leave.”
For information on ORBIS or further images, please contact Natasha Lee, Communications Officer on 020 7608 7284 or Nlee@orbis.org.uk
Notes to Editor:
ORBIS provides the tools, training and technology necessary for local hospitals to develop workable and lasting solutions to fight the tragedy of unnecessary 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.uk