Zambia Flying Eye Hospital project wrap-up

Orbis’s recent Flying Eye Hospital project in Lusaka, Zambia was our second patient-focused Flying Eye Hospital project in 2023 following the success of the team’s visit to Vietnam in July. We’re thrilled to report that this program was deemed an “extraordinary” project by those involved.

The three-week national ophthalmic training project had full approval from the Zambian Ministry of Health, with Vice President, The Honorable Mutale Nalumango, paying the project a visit personally.

Thanks to Orbis supporters and the project sponsors OMEGA and Alcon Foundation, our teams were able to examine over 115 patients, perform more than 50 sight-saving surgeries, and train more than 80 eye care professionals in person, with a further 40 online.

Orbis CEO Derek Hodkey and Orbis Zambia Country Director Lucia Nadaf meet the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, The Honorable Mutale Nalumango.

Orbis CEO Derek Hodkey and Orbis Zambia Country Director Lucia Nadaf meet the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, The Honorable Mutale Nalumango.

Local teams were required to complete pre-project virtual training via our award-winning telemedicine and e-learning platform, Cybersight. The live lectures and learning modules ensured local teams could make the most out of the project, with this blended approach proven to improve training outcomes.

In a first for Orbis, we recruited three local trainers from Zambia to help teach the simulation sessions in our partner hospital, UTH-Eye Hospital. Having received Orbis training on prior projects, they now have the skills and experience to pass on their knowledge to their peers in the Zambian eye health community.

Dr. Fyllis Moonga trains a local eye care professional in Zambia.

Dr. Phyllis Moonga was one of three Zambian eye health trainers during the project.

Our team of world-leading Volunteer Faculty was comprised of 17 specialists from seven countries. World leaders in cataract, oculoplastic, surgical retina, and glaucoma, they shared their unique skills with local eye teams on board the plane and in our partner hospital.

Dr. Tamara Fountain, Orbis Volunteer Faculty and oculoplastics specialist had this to say:

Gabriel and Zipporah

Gabriel and Zipporah, brother and sister from Kabana, Zambia both had surgery to correct their vision in our partner hospital, UTH-Eye Hospital during the three-week project. Long-time Orbis volunteer and world-renowned pediatric strabismus expert Dr. Andrea Molinari not only helped oversee a successful surgery, but she enhanced the skills of local eye teams in the process.

Both siblings experienced name-calling and bullying at school due to their pronounced strabismus, as well as vision loss. But thanks to Orbis supporters and our team of expert volunteers, they can now look forward to a future of healthy sight and renewed confidence.

Their father Godfried told us: First and foremost, I just want to say thank you to your Orbis team and supporters. The way you've come here, you are doing such a good job. Please just keep doing what you're doing. And I hope you train more and impart more knowledge to the doctors and the nurses here in Zambia. I really appreciate the work you are doing.”

This is the second time the Flying Eye Hospital has visited Zambia, with the first project in 2012 in Ndola focusing on pediatric ophthalmology. This October 2023 project was the first to take place in the capital city, Lusaka after a prior project scheduled for 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure eye teams in Zambia could still benefit from best-in-class training, our Flying Eye Hospital team created a virtual program delivered over Cybersight.

This time, however, our teams were thrilled to meet many of their colleagues in person, with Orbis Volunteer Faculty and clinical staff training local teams via state-of-the-art simulation technology and hands-on surgery. With a focus on strabismus, cataract, glaucoma, vitreoretinal, oculoplastics, anesthesiology, nursing, and biomedical engineering, our teams ensured that crucial training priorities identified in the planning process were met.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to our project sponsors, OMEGA and Alcon Foundation. Without their support, these projects would not be possible. We’d also like to thank our Volunteer Faculty who give up their free time to share their unique skills, and of course, our wonderful supporters – without whom none of this would be possible.

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