Visit by His Excellency, the President Dr. Bashar al-Assad, raises awareness about blindness prevention in the Middle East
Aleppo, Syria, June 25, 2008 – Today, Syrian President Dr. Bashar al-Assad boarded the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital—the world’s only airborne ophthalmic training facility—to observe Syrian doctors and nurses working side-by-side with the international ORBIS medical team to restore sight to people who are needlessly blind.
“I enjoyed very much visiting the ORBIS aircraft to see the state-of-the-art ophthalmology. It’s a great initiative. Although a charity, its mission is also a cultural one. People learn about each other through dialogue and cooperation, which is the best way. I wish the staff of ORBIS all the best,” said President Dr. al-Assad as he toured ORBIS’ unique DC-10 aircraft while surgery was taking place.
Flying Eye Hospital Director Erwin Temmerman, left,
shakes hands with Syrian President Dr. Bashar al-Assad
on board the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital. The Syrian
president is holding a model Flying Eye Hospital he was
given to commemorate the occasion.
At the invitation of
Syria’s Ministry of Health, the
Hospital team returned to
Aleppo to conduct an intensive sight-saving training program from June 15–26, 2008.
The program offered the local ophthalmic community the opportunity to exchange skills with international ophthalmologists so that they would be better equipped to treat and prevent eye diseases prevalent throughout the country.
Among those providing hands-on training, surgical demonstrations, diagnostic and post-operative consultations and lectures were doctors from Alaska, California, Montana, New York and Ohio as well as Colombia, Ecuador, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
“As a trained ophthalmologist, it was a personal and professional privilege to show President Dr. Bashar al-Assad the hands-on training that takes place aboard the ORBIS DC-10,” said Dr.
Hunter Cherwek, medical director of the
“ORBIS brings together people of diverse cultural backgrounds through the
Hospital, not only to restore sight and share sight-saving skills and knowledge but also to expand the global network of people dedicated to preventing the escalating tragedy of unnecessary blindness,” he said.
Hospital program is the
Hospital’s fourth visit to
|The Syrian minister of health and the
mayor of Aleppo visit with a patient who
received a corneal transplant during the
Flying Eye Hospital visit to Aleppo in 2007.
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 (April 2007). Click here to see a soundslide on ORBIS' previous visit to Aleppo.
ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Please visit www.orbis.org.