The Orbis FEH Conducts Training Program in Hue for the First Time
Orbis enhances capacity of local eye care services in Central Vietnam through ophthalmic training program
New York (May 5, 2015) – Orbis, a leading global non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to eliminate avoidable blindness, has returned to Vietnam for the 6th time to deliver a two-week intensive ophthalmic training for eye professionals in Hue, Vietnam. In partnership with Hue Central Hospital (HCH) and Hue Eye Hospital (HEH), this program marks the first visit to the city for the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital (FEH)—the world’s only accredited ophthalmic training hospital aboard a DC-10 aircraft.
The program, which will run through May 15, 2015, aims to strengthen the surgical skills of local ophthalmologists and enhance the capacity of eye care services in Central Vietnam, especially in pediatric ophthalmology. Orbis will focus on advancing hands-on and participant level skills in the areas of glaucoma, oculoplastics, medical and surgical retina, and conditions affecting children, including strabismus and congenital glaucoma.
“Orbis began working with Vietnam’s ophthalmic communities through hospital-based projects in 1996, and we embarked on long-term, sustainable blindness prevention programs with local partners since 2000,” Huong Tran, Country Director of Orbis Vietnam, said. “In fact, by collaborating with the government and our partners, Orbis is the only non-profit organization which has helped to build Vietnam’s capacity to prevent and manage childhood blindness, including ROP [retinopathy of prematurity], through the setting up of five tertiary pediatric eye centers in Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Binh Dinh, and Ho Chi Minh City.”
By leveraging the FEH, the program also aims to create public awareness on the prevention and early detection of childhood blindness in the country. According to the 2007 Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) study, more than half a million Vietnamese people are blind, and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese children are visually impaired. However, the prevalence of blindness in Vietnam’s Central region is the highest among the country’s seven regional zones. The National Institute of Ophthalmology also projected that at least 50,000 children in Central Vietnam have some type of strabismus, and about 2,500 children have ptosis. In general, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which is an eye disorder affecting premature babies, was found to be the major cause of blindness in 32.6% of blind children under 10 years old, and 6% between the ages of 10 and 16 in Vietnam.
Although pediatric ophthalmology services are in high demand in the Central region, only a limited number of ophthalmologists in Hue and Da Nang have been trained and able to perform basic pediatric surgery and other procedures. Therefore, childhood blindness prevention has been identified as a priority eye care issue nationwide by the National Blindness Prevention Steering Committee in Vietnam. In response to this, the Hue FEH program also provides continuing medical education tailored for nurses, anesthesiologists, biomedical engineers, and other healthcare professionals, including hands-on training, pediatric nursing and infection control, basic life support and World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety workshops.
“By working with the Hue Eye Hospital and Hue Central Hospital, we aim to enhance the skills and knowledge of their ophthalmologists and residents in performing advanced subspecialty surgical procedures, especially in pediatric ophthalmology and safe anesthesia practices,” said Dr. Ahmed Gomaa, Medical Director of Orbis Flying Eye Hospital.
About Prevention of Blindness Worldwide
On a global scale, 285 million people are visually impaired. An estimated 80% of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured. Approximately 90% of all visually impaired people live in low income settings.
Orbis prevents and treats blindness through hands-on training, public health education, improved access to quality eye care, advocacy and partnerships with local health care organizations. By building long-term capabilities, Orbis helps its partner institutions take action to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible, and sustainable. To learn more about Orbis, please visit www.orbis.org.
 Rapid Assessment for avoidable blindness (RAAB) in 16 provinces of Vietnam, microdata obtained with Permission of study investigators, personal communication with Dr H Limburg, 2008.
 No available information on the prevalence and causes of childhood blindness in Central region, using information from the survey of Hans Limburg, Clare Gilbert, Do Nhu Hon, Nguyen Chi Dung, Prevalence and Causes of Blindness in Children in Vietnam, Ophthalmology, Volume 119, Issue 2 , Pages 355-361, February 2012.