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Flying Eye Hospital Delivers Sight-Saving Surgery

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 7:00am

With the generous sponsorship of FedEx (NYSE: FDX), ORBIS International's Flying Eye Hospital - the world's only eye surgical and training hospital with wings - touches down in two Southeast Asia countries to deliver sight-saving surgeries to those suffering with blindness and visual impairments, and to conduct skills exchange programs with the local ophthalmic community.

Beginning in Da Nang, Vietnam from August 9 - 20 and ending in Manila, Philippines from August 30 - September 10th, this Flying Eye Hospital Program will increase the clinical and surgical abilities of local eye care providers. Advanced training will be offered in ophthalmic care, focusing on pediatric eye diseases, cataract, oculoplastics and medical retina. Surgeries to treat and prevent blindness will be provided free of charge onboard the Flying Eye Hospital and at the local partner hospitals.

"The support we receive from FedEx enables the delivery of improved eye care services to numerous people, while bringing awareness of avoidable blindness to many more," said Dr. Hunter Cherwek, medical director, ORBIS International. "By creating specific, high-level programs that strengthen and further the capacity of our local partner hospitals, and using this aircraft-based training hospital to build awareness and public education, ORBIS is providing the tools and resources our partners need to prevent, manage and treat avoidable blindness.  The unwavering support of FedEx allows for this level of strategic intervention, training, advocacy and capacity building with our partner hospitals throughout the world."

As part of a global initiative to combat preventable blindness, and in support of ORBIS International's skills-exchange program approach, FedEx will award and sponsor fellowships for a promising ophthalmologist from each country to study at leading eye institutes.

This initiative - The FedEx Fellows - began three years ago and has since awarded fellowships to ophthalmologists from Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Peru, Kenya and the Dominican Republic.

"At FedEx, we believe in training to empower our staff 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 Jim Parker, FedEx Senior Vice President of Air Operations and Vice Chairman of the ORBIS Board of Directors. "By connecting the worlds of business, charity and academia, FedEx can help improve the quality of people's lives around the world."

As a sponsor of ORBIS for more than 20 years, FedEx has committed its vast aviation expertise, unparalleled networks and dedicated team members to assist ORBIS in delivering the gift of sight to countless individuals throughout the developing world. In 2006, FedEx renewed its global sponsorship of ORBIS with a US $5.5 million commitment, which includes financial, logistical and operational support for ORBIS and its Flying Eye Hospital through 2011.

Delivering unwavering support, FedEx uses its aviation expertise to support the annual maintenance check for the Flying Eye Hospital. In addition, FedEx pilots volunteer their time to fly the Flying Eye

Hospital to medical program locations worldwide. FedEx also give complimentary access to its powerful network, providing transportation services in support of ORBIS initiatives around the world.

Globally, about 85% of all visual impairment and 75% of blindness could be prevented or cured worldwide. 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 Southeast Asia According to the World Health Organization, one-third of the world's 45 million blind and half of the world's 1.5 million blind children live in Southeast Asia. Of the 12 people who become blind every minute in the world, 4 are from Southeast Asia. With one quarter of the global population and one-third of the world's blind, Southeast Asia has a disproportionate burden of blindness. The blind persons in this region are among the poorest in the world and the most marginalized in society.

Ninety percent of the blindness in Southeast Asia is avoidable (preventable or curable). Cataract - the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide - can be cured with simple, inexpensive surgery, while refractive errors - the second leading cause - are correctable with simple optical devices.

 

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