ORBIS’s Visit to the Philippines Kicks off Celebration of 30 Years of Saving Sight Worldwide
New York, February 21, 2012– Through the generous sponsorship of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), ORBIS’s Flying Eye Hospital – the world’s only ophthalmic surgical and training hospital with wings – touched down today in the Philippines to deliver teaching and training to local eye care providers and sight-saving surgeries to those suffering from avoidable blindness and visual impairment. This will be the 11th Flying Eye Hospital Programme to the Philippines and the first to the Western Visayas Region.
ORBIS will conduct a three-week skills exchange programme to increase the clinical and surgical abilities of the local eye care providers in the Western Visayas Region. This advanced training will be offered in ophthalmic care and will provide surgeries to treat and prevent blindness at no cost to patients on both the Flying Eye Hospital and at the local partner hospitals. This will include a two-week programme in Iloilo and a one-week Hospital-Based Programme in Bacolod.
“We are delighted to have our first Flying Eye Hospital programme in 2012 in the Philippines, which is the 11th programme in the country since 1982,” said Carlos Solarte, MD, medical director of the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital. “As ORBIS enters into its 30th year of saving sight worldwide, we celebrate with our long-time global sponsor, FedEx, to continue our efforts in raising awareness of avoidable blindness and strengthening the capacity of our partners in the developing world.”
As part of a global initiative to combat preventable and treatable blindness, and in support of ORBIS’s skills exchange programme approach, FedEx will continue their fellowship programme 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.
“FedEx team members around the globe have supported ORBIS for more than three decades, helping the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital fly to places in need,” said James R. Parker, executive vice president of FedEx Express Air Operations. “Our pilots volunteer to fly the plane on its sight-saving missions around the world, ORBIS pilots train here in Memphis at the FedEx Express flight simulator, our mechanics provide maintenance support, and we donate the use of our unparalleled network and our aviation expertise. In recognition of our joint efforts, the FedEx - ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program collaboration was recently recognized by the American Chamber of Commerce Philippines with a CSR Excellence Award. This is an honor that we value.”
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 Programme that provides an opportunity for local, talented doctors to receive the continuing medical education needed to address leading causes of avoidable blindness within their country.
ORBIS benefits from the unparalleled FedEx global network and aviation expertise to help the Flying Eye Hospital take flight. FedEx Express pilots volunteer to fly the ORBIS DC-10 to many of its medical programmes 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 programmes worldwide, makes the FedEx Express flight training simulator available to train volunteer pilots, and manages the cost and performance of the 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, 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.
Blindness in the Philippines
Among the 7,100 islands of the Philippines, there are approximately 92 million people, of which more than 600,000 are blind. For those living in more urban, metropolitan environments, the Philippines provides first rate ophthalmic expertise and care, as well as advanced private care to those who can afford it. However, for those living in provincial communities, access to healthcare, including ophthalmic care, is poor and can be extremely difficult to access.