Zambia Flying Eye Hospital Project Goes Virtual

June 2020

The Flying Eye Hospital should be in Zambia right now, delivering hands-on training to our partners in Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola, and Chipata. However, like millions of people all over the world it is stuck at home waiting for better times. But that has not stopped our team delivering first-class training to our dedicated partners online.

We’ve been working with the Ministry of Health in Zambia for 10 years and have developed strong relationships with our partners. In 2017 we set up a permanent office to help strengthen these relationships and improve the quality of eye care to the people of Zambia.

Below: Images from when the Flying Eye Hospital was last in Zambia in 2012

“Naturally we’re all disappointed not to be in Zambia with the Flying Eye Hospital right now, working face-to-face with our great partners” said Maurice Geary, Flying Eye Hospital Director.

But all is not lost. Our team has crafted an online curriculum tailored to the training needs of the 100 Zambian ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents, nurses, and biomedical engineers and technicians who would have been taking part on board the plane under normal circumstances.

“Like millions of people we’ve had to learn to adapt to a new environment, and I’m very proud of how the team has taken on the challenge and put together this remote training planMaurice told us.

Below: Images from the first virtual Flying Eye Hospital webinar

Participants will be enrolled in customized Cybersight courses that include pre-learning modules, live lectures and discussion sessions. And while this is not a direct replacement for hands on training it does provide critical training to help our partners deliver emergency eye care. As Maurice told us “We have assured our local partners that these projects are only postponed, and we will be there in-person as soon as we can to deliver the hands on element of the skills sharing”.

Dr. Danny Haddad, Chief of Programs at Orbis International said As health services become stretched in countries across the world, the need to protect eye health remains. It is critical that eye care professionals continue to have access to quality training, building their skills to meet the needs of their patients. While we will miss the opportunity to connect with our Zambian partners on the ground, we’re thrilled that Cybersight is allowing us to continue our sight-saving training in a safe and socially responsible way.”

Our Flying Eye Hospital team plans to continue these virtual programs for the remaining destinations on this year’s postponed Flying Eye Hospital schedule - Cameroon, Mongolia and India.

Once the plane can safely resume its schedule, these virtual programs will serve as a new model to supplement in-person Flying Eye Hospital projects. “It was always our intention to grow the online element of our Flying Eye Hospital Projects with more pre-learning, course modules and webinars. Like our other Orbis teams, we’re using the pandemic to accelerate our focus on online contentMaurice told us.

We’d like to say a big thank you to our sponsors, dedicated in-country teams and our staff and volunteers for making this all possible.

We’d also like to reassure our supporters that while the Flying Eye Hospital is currently grounded, it is being taken for regular exercise by our Director of Aircraft Operations and Maintenance to ensure it is fully operational and ready to go as soon as the climate changes.

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