Flying eye hospital gets new aeroplane

May 1, 2008

Orbis International, an international nonprofit humanitarian organization which operates the world"s only Flying Eye Hospital, is to upgrade from a DC-10-10 to a DC-10 Series 30 freighter airline, giving the project an extra 20 years of flying time.

Orbis International, an international nonprofit humanitarian organization which operates the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital, is to upgrade from a DC-10-10 to a DC-10 Series 30 freighter airline, giving the project an extra 20 years of flying time. The donation of the new $2 million freighter by United Airlines and FedEx Corp was announced at this year’s ASCRS congress in Chicago, US.

The first Orbis Flying Eye Hospital became operational in 1982. Since then it has conducted more than 900 sight-saving programmes in 86 countries, treating more than 6.8 million people. The hospital treats conditions including cataract, childhood and corneal blindness, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinoblastoma, retinopathy of prematurity, strabismus and trachoma, and also performs oculoplastic surgery. Having already visited Myanmar, Viet Nam and Kuwait earlier this year, planned destinations for the rest of 2008 also include Dubai, Iran, Syria, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda and China.

As well as the ophthalmic surgical centre - which includes a laser treatment room, an operating theatre, a sterilization room and a recovery room - the aircraft also contains a classroom and audiovisual centre, enabling Orbis to conduct training programmes for local healthcare practitioners. This involves holding lectures, broadcasting live surgeries, and recording videos of procedures to leave with local institutions for further training. Orbis also puts in place structures to assist with human resource and organizational development, infrastructure and technology, community partnership and effective disease control, monitoring and evaluation.

The new Series 30 freighter is approximately ten years younger than Orbis’s current model and is more cost-effective, as replacement parts for the older model are now both expensive and scarce. It is expected to take two years to modify the freighter and fit it with enough equipment to maintain the flying hospital’s state of the art ophthalmic facility. ORBIS Executive Director Geoffrey Holland said, "This is a truly wonderful gift to the world."

 

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ASCRS 2008 meeting highlights.

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