Vietnamese Eye Care Professionals Participate in Three-Week Medical Skills Exchange Program
NEW YORK, April 3, 2012 – With the generous sponsorship of FedEx (NYSE: FDX), ORBIS’s Flying Eye Hospital (FEH) – a converted DC-10 aircraft and the world’s only ophthalmic surgical and training hospital with wings – has returned to Da Nang, Vietnam. From April 2-20 2012 the FEH will conduct a three-week skills exchange program with local eye care professionals and perform sight saving surgeries to patients suffering from blindness and visual impairment in Central Vietnam.
The program will include two of ORBIS’s key long-term partners in Vietnam: Da Nang Eye Hospital (DEH) and Hue Eye Hospital. In partnership with ORBIS, DEH is now recognized as a Center of Excellence for eye health in Vietnam and will continue to develop capacity, while also hosting other partners from Vietnam as they participate in this joint skills-exchange program. The program will be followed by a Hospital-Based Program (HBP) in Hue after participation of Hue-based doctors in Da Nang to reinforce skills transfer.
This is the fourth FedEx-sponsorsed ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program of a total of five in Vietnam over ORBIS’s 30 years working to save sight worldwide. Da Nang has been the host for four programs. This follows a series of collaborative initiatives and multi-year projects with partner hospitals in central Vietnam. The key objectives for the program will focus on subspecialty ophthalmic care, including pediatric eye diseases, cataract, glaucoma, oculoplastics and retina.
“FedEx enables us to transfer advanced ophthalmic skills to local eye care professionals and deliver improved eye care services to numerous people,” said David Johnson, Director of ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital. “By using the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital as a platform to build awareness and public education, ORBIS has attracted great public attention to the cause of preventing blindness. The unwavering support of FedEx makes our advocacy and capacity building with our partners throughout the world possible.”
As part of a global initiative to combat preventable blindness, and in support of ORBIS skills exchange program approach, FedEx will award and sponsor a fellowship for one promising ophthalmologist from Vietnam to study at some of the world’s leading eye institutes. This initiative—The FedEx Fellowship—began in 2006 and has since awarded fellowships to ophthalmologists from Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Peru, Kenya and the Dominican Republic. Since 2006, FedEx has sponsored four Flying Eye Hospital Programs in Vietnam and granted four fellowships for local ophthalmologists.
“FedEx believes training effectively empowers team members to excel in their jobs. The FedEx Fellows Program is in line with our people-first philosophy and represents an exciting way for our organization to help ORBIS extend the value of its medical programs,” said James R. Parker, Executive Vice President of FedEx Express Air Operations. “By connecting the worlds of aviation, social responsibility and healthcare, FedEx can help ORBIS to transform lives and improve quality of life of people around the world.”
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 mechanics provide maintenance support, and FedEx 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 flight training simulator available to train volunteer pilots, and manages the cost and performance of 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 avoided or cured. 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. 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.