Our Flying Eye Hospital is currently grounded due to Covid-19

Our Flying Eye Hospital might not be traveling, but our mission is still in flight

Not even a global pandemic can stop the Flying Eye Hospital team from restoring sight and changing lives.

The Flying Eye Hospital team has just delivered much-needed eye health training in Ghana. The impact of this work, which was very generously supported by Orbis donors, will be felt by thousands of people and help build skills and save sight across the country.

It wasn’t possible to fly this time, so our team adapted, and provided the training virtually.

Last time our MD-10 aircraft visited Ghana was in 2019, and it was a great success. Our team of 53 leading eye health professionals from 25 different countries screened patients and performed eye surgeries, training local health professionals in the process.

Aviation blogger Sam Chui covered the trip, and recorded a wonderful video which has been viewed 1.3 million times.

Sam Chui's video has been viewed more than 1.3 million times

As you can imagine, 2021 proved very different to 2019.

This time round twelve wonderful Orbis Volunteer Faculty and staff delivered a Virtual Flying Eye Hospital course using the Cybersight platform. It was attended by ophthalmic nurses, ophthalmologists and other health professionals in Ghana.

Because Orbis has built a solid foundation for remote and virtual training, our teams were still able to share crucial surgical skills that will save sight and transform the lives of people like 11 year-old Hakeema.

Ghana trainees log on for a virtual lecture with VF Dr. Ghalib

Teams in Ghana log on for their virtual lecture with Orbis Volunteer Dr Ghalib

The training was made possible by the generosity of Orbis supporters, who’ve shown incredible loyalty and determination, despite the challenges COVID-19 may have brought to their own lives.

And Here’s Why It All Matters so Much

In Ghana, children like Hakeema often live with disabling eye conditions that would be diagnosed and managed successfully in most wealthier nations.

A lack of trained or skilled health professionals make it difficult for these kids to get the help they need. Many go needlessly blind.

Two year old Hakeema is reassured by her mother, Sumaiyah, during the Flying Eye Hospital visit to Ghana in 2019

Hakeema was troubled by a squint that was getting worse, and causing a lot of discomfort.

Her Mom, Sumaiyah, told us, “Hakeema could hardly have contact with light. She would just squint at the light or squeeze her eyes.”

When other children went off to school, Hakeema would stay home. It was heartbreaking for the bright little girl. The situation seemed hopeless. Ghana has more than 29 million people, but only three qualified pediatric ophthalmologists.

That’s before kind Orbis supporters and the Flying Eye Hospital team changed Hakeema’s life. An ophthalmologist volunteering with Orbis corrected her strabismus, and used the chance to demonstrate surgical techniques and patient care to Ghanian doctors and nurses.

Not only was Hakeema’s sight restored, but those local professionals are now using their training to help other patients.

Hakeema was in high spirits after her surgery. It was a success!

The Flying Eye Hospital first touched down in Ghana in 1990, with long-term country programs established by 2014. We share a common goal - to reduce childhood blindness, and make it easier for families like Hakeema’s to access quality eye health care, with all the benefits it brings for their education and their futures.

Virtual training courses like the ones our team just delivered, have a powerful, lasting impact.

Every eye doctor, nurse or technician who is trained will go on to treat thousands of patients over the course of their working life. Some will become educators themselves, passing on world-class skills and knowledge to other eye health care workers.

The generosity of Orbis supporters has enabled the Virtual Flying Eye Hospital training programs to be delivered in 9 countries: Bolivia, Cameroon, Chile, Ethiopia, India Mongolia, Peru, Zambia, and of course, Ghana.

Maurice Geary

Director of the Flying Eye Hospital

While we have missed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect with our part­ner insti­tu­tions and their teams on the ground, we’re thrilled that Cyber­sight is allow­ing us to con­tin­ue our sight-sav­ing train­ing in a safe and social­ly respon­si­ble way.”
Dr. Tom Johnson training local eye doctors in complex oculoplastics procedures in Accra, Ghana

Dr. Tom Johnson trains a Ghanian colleague in surgical technique.

There’s so much that needs to be done to build an eye health workforce, fight blindness and bring good eye health to millions of people.

But thanks to the resilience of Orbis supporters, and the adaptability of our volunteer trainers, there’s another child like Hakeema having their sight restored in Ghana today.


Help train the eye health workforce and fight blindness in Ghana

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