Of the 253 million people in the world who are blind or visually impaired, 75% have conditions that are preventable or treatable. This means that nearly 190 million people are unnecessarily blind or visually impaired – equivalent to the population of the 4th largest country in the world.
Orbis train and mentor local eye care teams in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where most blind or visually impaired people live, so that they can treat eye conditions and raise awareness about eye health in the communities.
They this by providing specialist training, often delivered by our medical volunteers, and donating equipment for doctors, nurses and eye care teams in 27 countries, as well as on the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, a state-of-the-art ophthalmic teaching hospital on board a customised aircraft.
Orbis’s medical volunteers are at the heart of what they do. They are highly qualified, experienced experts who give up their time, free of charge, to share their skills and expertise with local eye care professionals. They comprise ophthalmologists, anaesthetists, nurses, biomedical engineers and orthoptists across six continents, including over 80 from the UK and Ireland.
The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is a fully-integrated training facility, with an operating theatre, recovery room, and audio-visual equipment that transmits live surgeries to a 46-seat classroom at the front of the plane. It can also broadcast live lectures and surgeries via our online training platform, Cybersight – providing a valuable training resource for eye care professionals wherever they need it.
Replacing their previous plane, a DC-10, Orbis’s latest MD-10 aircraft includes a digital cockpit requiring just two pilots and has greater fuel capacity and improved operating efficiency. It is entirely self-sufficient, generating hospital-grade clean air and purified water, and it operates on generators powered by aviation fuel. The hospital sections of the plane are modular, similar to commercial cargo containers. Shipping the hospital as cargo – rather than building it into the airframe –eliminates the need to certify medical items for the flight, which lowers costs considerably and makes replacements and upgrades far simpler.
Every year, the Flying Eye Hospital visits countries around the world, partnering with local hospitals to deliver specialist training, carry out treatments, and raise vital awareness about the importance of eye health. Ghana is the next destination for the Flying Eye Hospital in 2019.
By giving people back their sight, Orbis is also giving people back their lives. It gives children the chance for an education, and adults the opportunity to work. Quite simply it transforms their lives. Last year alone Orbis carried out over 63,000 training sessions and 78,000 surgeries and treatments.
It is thanks to its generous supporters and partners that Orbis can make this work happen. To find out how you can help Orbis this week, please visit www.orbis.org.uk We hope you enjoy the conference.