Orbis International Teams Up with the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA to Improve Eye Care in Zambia
The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital returns to Zambia for a three-week training project in Lusaka coinciding with World Sight Day on October 12
LUSAKA, Zambia, Sept. 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Global eye care nonprofit, Orbis International, is kicking off a surgical training program in Zambia on board the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital - the world's only fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board a plane. There, Orbis clinical staff and Volunteer Faculty (medical experts) will provide hands-on simulation and surgical training to eye care professionals from across Zambia. For the first time, Zambian ophthalmologists trained through Orbis-sponsored and other fellowships will work alongside Flying Eye Hospital staff and Volunteer Faculty to deliver simulation training to ophthalmology residents. With continuing support from the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA, this collaboration will focus on improving adult and pediatric eye care in Zambia, where it's estimated that at least 4% of the population experiences blindness that could be avoided, and there exists only one ophthalmologist per 556,000 Zambians, leaving eye care needs largely unmet.
This project marks the second time the Flying Eye Hospital has held a training project in Zambia – the first taking place in Ndola in 2012 with a focus on pediatric ophthalmology. This will be the first project of its kind to take place in the capital city, Lusaka. Training activities will occur on the Flying Eye Hospital, currently located at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, and at Orbis's partner University Teaching Hospital-Eye Hospital.
The project will provide three weeks of combined simulation and hands-on surgical training from today through October 13, along with tailored virtual Cybersight courses that will precede and complement in-person training. The project will also deliver interdisciplinary subspecialty training, including for cataract, the leading cause of blindness in Zambia.
"This partnership between Orbis and University Teaching Hospital-Eye Hospital marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to address avoidable blindness and vision loss in Zambia," said Lucia Nadaf, Country Director of Orbis Zambia. "We are grateful to the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA for their contributions to this project, which will allow us to take significant strides towards improving diagnosis, treatment and management of eye conditions across the country."
The Alcon Foundation, sponsoring the first half of the project, has been a generous supporter of Orbis for over forty years, providing monetary donations for the Flying Eye Hospital. Alcon Cares has provided additional support to the Flying Eye Hospital with donations of state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment, surgical products, and supplies. Alcon's expert biomedical engineers and trainers also participate in Orbis programs, sharing their skills and knowledge to help program participants learn to operate and maintain critical medical technology, and will lead a biomedical engineering workshop in Lusaka during the current project. Most recently, Alcon supported the Flying Eye Hospital project held in Texas in 2022, Orbis's first in-person project on the plane following the start of the pandemic.
"Alcon sees a world where treatable, preventable conditions that affect individuals' eye health receive the attention they need, when they need it, regardless of geography, gender, age or socioeconomic status," said Royce Bedward, President, the Alcon Foundation. "We know that the only way to make quality eye care more available and accessible is by cultivating self-sustaining eye health ecosystems, and developing well-trained eye care teams is an integral part of that work. That's why we're proud to partner with Orbis in Zambia to increase access to eye care and help people see and live brilliantly."
OMEGA, sponsoring the second half of the project, has been a proud supporter of Orbis since 2011. OMEGA is not only an avid supporter of Flying Eye Hospital projects – including a first-of-its-kind training project held in Doha, Qatar, last year for women in eye care from conflict-affected areas – they also work in cooperation with its celebrity brand ambassadors to increase awareness of Orbis and its mission.
"I'm always deeply impressed by the work of our friends at Orbis and the latest initiative in Zambia is further proof of the team's commitment to its mission, "said Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA. "It's a huge source of pride to know that OMEGA is playing an important role in this life-changing work."
Orbis is grateful for additional support for this Flying Eye Hospital project from Aumund Foundation, which is covering costs for surgical treatment services and training tools and supplies. Aumund Foundation has partnered with Orbis since 2020 and supported programs in Nepal.
Orbis in Zambia
Orbis has been actively working towards the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness and vision loss in the country for over a decade and has made significant progress in improving eye health outcomes, particularly amongst vulnerable populations. Notably, Orbis Zambia has more than doubled the number of ophthalmologists in the country, from only 17 in 2017, to 38 in 2022. In addition, Orbis Zambia has expanded pediatric access to eye health services to every school district in the Copperbelt Province and more than tripled the number of children accessing services from 28,000 in 2018 to 100,000 in 2019. The organization also supported the training fellowship of the first female vitreoretinal surgeon in the country and set up a vitreoretinal clinic at the University Teaching Hospitals-Eye Hospital. Additionally, in the last 13 years, Orbis Zambia has supported the establishment or improvement of one pediatric eye hospital, three tertiary eye hospitals, one wet lab, and 32 primary eye care units.
Orbis Zambia is committed to building a robust health system to prevent and combat eye diseases throughout the country and will continue to improve community awareness, increase surgical rates, and provide vital equipment to hospitals and eye care centers.
About Orbis International
Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has been a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness for over four decades. Orbis transforms lives by delivering the skills, resources and knowledge needed to deliver accessible quality eye care. Working in collaboration with local partners, including hospitals, universities, government agencies and ministries of health, Orbis provides hands-on ophthalmology training, strengthens healthcare infrastructure and advocates for the prioritization of eye health on public health agendas. Orbis operates the world's only Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft, and an award-winning telemedicine platform, Cybersight. For the past ten consecutive years, Orbis has achieved Charity Navigator's coveted four-star rating for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, placing Orbis in the top 3% of U.S. charities. For the past three years, Orbis has earned GuideStar's platinum Seal of Transparency. In 2022, Orbis earned "accredited charity" status from the Better Business Bureau by meeting all 20 of their standards for charity accountability. To learn more, please visit orbis.org.
Alcon helps people see brilliantly. As the global leader in eye care with a heritage spanning over 75 years, we offer the broadest portfolio of products to enhance sight and improve people's lives. Our Surgical and Vision Care products touch the lives of more than 260 million people in over 140 countries each year living with conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases and refractive errors. Our more than 25,000 associates are enhancing the quality of life through innovative products, partnerships with Eye Care Professionals and programs that advance access to quality eye care. Learn more at www.alcon.com.
OMEGA is a prestigious Swiss watchmaker and member of the Swatch Group Ltd. Since 1848, the brand has been synonymous with excellence, innovation and precision, as well as a pioneering spirit, demonstrated by conquests of the oceans and space. In fact, since 1965, the OMEGA Speedmaster has been worn on each of NASA's manned missions including all six moon landings. As well as this, no brand is more actively involved in sports timekeeping. In addition to partnerships in golf, sailing, athletics and swimming, OMEGA has served as the Official Timekeeper at 30 Olympic Games. Most importantly, OMEGA has a tradition of excellence in watchmaking. This reputation was reinforced in 2015 with the introduction of METAS-approved Master Chronometer certification, representing the Swiss industry's highest standard of precision, magnetic resistance and performance.
Manager, Global Communications and Marketing
Natacha Graber Mascali
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