Giving sight to the developing world

OTE's Victoria Farrell interviews Cambodian paediatric ophthalmologist Phara Khauv to find out how an ORBIS initiative has impacted his practice in a vastly underserved country.

Key Points

Preventable blindness still affects an unacceptably high proportion of the world's population. The World Health Organization estimates that 28 million of the world's 37 million blind suffer from preventable blindness: that's a staggering 75.7% of the world's total population of blind people. The vast majority of the needlessly blind - 90% in fact - live in the developing world.

In 1982, a non-profit organization, ORBIS International was established. The goal of the organization is to increase access to vision care services in these countries, with the goal of eventually eliminating preventable blindness.

The fellowship programme

In addition to the training programmes and the services provided by the Flying Eye Hospital, ORBIS also, in collaboration with its partner FedEx, offers fellowships to ophthalmologists from developing regions.

The programme was launched in 2006; three fellows have since been named and have undertaken courses, and a further two will be designated annually for the next five years.

Previous FedEx Fellows include Dr Thomas Cherian of the Little Flower Hospital in Kerala, India, who completed his fellowship in the areas of retina, paediatric retina and retinopathy of prematurity at Moorfields Eye Hospital, UK, and Dr Nguyen Thanh Chi of Vietnam's Da Nang Eye Hospital, who studied paediatric ophthalmology at Stanford University, US.