Da Nang, Vietnam – October 10, 2006 – For the first time ever, the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital – the world’s only airborne ophthalmic surgical and training facility – made a historic landing today at Da Nang Airport in Vietnam. The inaugural visit comes at the invitation of the Government of Vietnam and the People’s Committee of Da Nang City.
For the past 10 years, ORBIS has worked with Vietnamese authorities and health officials to extend additional continuing medical education opportunities to the ophthalmic community of Vietnam. From October 9–20, more than 90 Vietnamese doctors and nurses will work side-by-side with an international medical team on board the Flying Eye Hospital and within the Da Nang Eye Hospital to restore sight to the blind.
Sponsored by FedEx (NYSE: FDX), the Da Nang Flying Eye Hospital program aims to enhance the skills of the local ophthalmic community so that they are better equipped to treat and prevent eye diseases prevalent among the Vietnamese population. Half a million people currently suffer from blindness in Vietnam.
"We are deeply grateful to the Vietnamese government for taking this historic initiative of inviting ORBIS to bring together people of diverse cultural backgrounds through the Flying Eye Hospital, not only to restore sight and share knowledge and sight-saving skills, which is of great importance, but also to promote cooperation and understanding between Vietnam and all other nations," said Oliver Foot, ORBIS president and executive director. "Our continued support in Vietnam will result in an ever-expanding group of skilled professionals who in turn will bring sight to the many who are needlessly blind."
Vice-Chairperson of Da Nang People’s Committee, Ms. Nong Thi Ngoc Minh said, "The collaboration with ORBIS has brought different organizations together to develop blindness prevention programs. We are pleased that Da Nang is the first city to host the Flying Eye Hospital. We are looking forward to similar visits in the future to benefit eye doctors and blind people in Vietnam."
Vietnam Program Sharpens Skills and Deepens Knowledge
In partnership with the Vietnamese National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO) and the Da Nang Eye Hospital, ORBIS will conduct an intensive two-week training program to improve local ophthalmic surgical techniques, nursing skills and equipment maintenance practices.
During the program, 50 ophthalmologists and 45 nurses and biomedical engineers will receive training and hands-on instruction. In addition, more than 40 Vietnamese patients will undergo surgery to have their sight restored or preserved.
"The visit of the Flying Eye Hospital to Da Nang moved our hearts as it arrived only one week after Typhoon Xangsane. Doctors from across Vietnam support ORBIS’s sight-saving programs. I strongly believe this inaugural visit of the DC-10 aircraft will be a success," said Professor Pham Song, president of Vietnam Union of Medical Associations and former Minister of Health.
FedEx Helps Deliver Sight Worldwide
For more than 20 years, FedEx has facilitated the humanitarian efforts of ORBIS around the world by providing financial, operational and logistical support. FedEx is again committing its resources as the sponsor of the Da Nang Flying Eye Hospital program.
In conjunction with the Da Nang program, FedEx and ORBIS are launching a new fellowship program – the FedEx Fellows – in which ORBIS will award medical training fellowships to ophthalmologists around the world over the next five years. The first fellowship will be awarded to a Vietnamese ophthalmologist who will receive advanced training for one to three months at Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology in Indianapolis, Indiana. Upon return to Vietnam, the FedEx Fellow will have the opportunity to put newly-acquired skills, knowledge and experience into practice. The first FedEx Fellow will be announced at the conclusion of the Da Nang Flying Eye Hospital program.
"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 David Ross, regional vice president, FedEx Express South Pacific. "By connecting the worlds of business, charity and academia, FedEx can help improve the quality of people’s lives in Vietnam and around the world."
Bringing About Lasting Change
The work of ORBIS in Vietnam, which is carried out by a full-time staff based in Ha Noi, concentrates on increasing access to comprehensive eye care among rural communities, building the ability of national institutions to take the lead in blindness prevention services and the provision of training, and addressing preventable childhood blindness.
"ORBIS’s cooperation in Vietnam aims to help the country protect and restore vision to underserved communities," said ORBIS Country Program Director, Thinh Nguyen. "We are actively working together with our local partners to strengthen the capacity of three regional eye care centers in North, Central and South Vietnam, develop and manage rural and pediatric eye care networks, and effective implementation of Vision 2020 Initiative: The Right to Sight in Vietnam."
Since 2000, ORBIS’s long-term projects in Vietnam have trained 1,460 doctors, 9,820 nurses and community eye health workers. In addition, more than one million Vietnamese have received eye exams and 267,679 patients have received medical treatment and/or surgery through ORBIS-sponsored projects.
ORBIS International is a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Visit www.orbis.org for more information.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $33 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brands. For more information, visit www.fedex.com.
Celia Yeung, Public Relations, ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, +84-90371596, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hue Nguyen, Public Relations, ORBIS Vietnam, +84-904144423, email@example.com