As blindness remains a major public health problem, unique aircraft conducts ophthalmic treatment and training program in Syria
NEW YORK – June 16, 2008 – Following goodwill visits to
Dubai, ORBIS International, operator of the world’s only airborne teaching facility – the
Hospital – has brought its sight-saving mission to
Syria. Invited by
Syria’s Ministry of Health and the
Hospital, ORBIS and its multinational medical team will conduct an intensive training program from June 15 to 26 to enhance the skills of the local ophthalmic community so that they are better equipped to treat and prevent eye diseases prevalent among the nation’s population.
“ORBIS is an advocate for supportive national eye care services and policies in the
Middle East, where many countries are in need of improved standards of eye care,” said Geoffrey Holland, executive director and CEO of ORBIS International. “And with 37 million people blind in the world today -- most of them suffering quite needlessly --ORBIS serves as a really practical example of peaceful international cooperation at a time when the need for such cooperation has surely never been greater."
Just prior to its stop in Syria, ORBIS conducted goodwill tours in
Dubai to explore future collaboration in eye care and education in the hope of widening the international network of people dedicated to eliminating the growing tragedy of unnecessary blindness.
Click here to see a sound slideshow on the Flying Eye Hospital's last trip to Syria.
Global cooperation brings vision, restores hope
ORBIS retains a global pool of medical professionals dedicated to the preservation and restoration of sight. These individuals are trained and certified experts with teaching experience in ophthalmology, anesthesiology, nursing, biomedical engineering, eye banking and other related eye care fields.
Syria, hands-on training, surgical demonstration, diagnostic and post-operative consultations and lectures will be provided by:
- Dr. William Basuk,
- Dr. Andrea Molinari, Universidad Central Del Ecuador
- Dr. Brian Sippy,
- Dr. Christopher Khng,
- Dr. Mark Cepela,
- Dr. Jay Fleischman,
College of Medicine (
- Dr. George Woods, Alaska Surgery Institute
- Ms. Ann-Marie Ablett, R.N.,
Hospital of Wales (
Eye disease has long been recognized as a major health problem in the
Syria is a country of 18.6 million people. As many as 130,200 Syrians are blind and more than 837,000 have low vision, with the majority of the causes either treatable or preventable.
- Cataract accounts for half of the cases of blindness (45 percent), despite the fact that the condition is generally curable. The complication rate following cataract surgery is reported to be high, although no exact figures are available.
- Glaucoma accounts for 5.7 percent of blindness regionally.
- Corneal scars from trauma, infection or failed medical intervention are also preventable and mostly curable causes of visual loss. Unfortunately, eye banks are available in only a small number of cities in the eastern Mediterranean countries, making corneal transplantation a rare procedure because of a lack of eye donors.
- Regionally, the major causes of childhood blindness are retinal degeneration, congenital cataract and glaucoma, corneal scars, vitamin A deficiency and trauma.
Hospital program will be the
Hospital’s fourth visit to
Syria. The humanitarian plane has twice worked in the nation’s capital, enjoying a pair of successful programs in
Damascus (June 1997 and September 1998) and once, in
Aleppo, in April 2007.
About ORBIS International
ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS programs have benefited people in 86 countries, enhancing the skills of more than 195,000 health care personnel and providing eye care treatment to more than 6.8 million people. To learn more about ORBIS, please visit http://www.orbis.org/.
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