Orbis International is launching a surgical training program in Zambia aboard the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, the world's only fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital located on an aircraft.
During this initiative, Orbis clinical staff and Volunteer Faculty, comprising medical experts, will deliver hands-on simulation and surgical training to eye care professionals from various regions within Zambia. A notable aspect of this program involves Zambian ophthalmologists who have received training through Orbis-sponsored fellowships and other programs, working alongside the Flying Eye Hospital's staff and Volunteer Faculty to provide simulation training to ophthalmology residents.
This collaborative effort, made possible through sustained support from the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA, aims to enhance both adult and pediatric eye care services in Zambia. Currently, the nation faces significant eye care challenges, with an estimated 4% of the population experiencing preventable blindness and only one ophthalmologist per 556,000 Zambians, resulting in unmet eye care needs.
This initiative represents the second time on which the Flying Eye Hospital has conducted a training project in Zambia, with the first taking place in Ndola in 2012, with a specific focus on pediatric ophthalmology. Remarkably, this will mark the inaugural project of its kind to be held in the capital city, Lusaka. Training activities will be conducted both aboard the Flying Eye Hospital, presently stationed at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, and at the University Teaching Hospital-Eye Hospital, a valued partner of Orbis.
The project is designed to offer a comprehensive three-week program that combines simulation and hands-on surgical training, commencing today and continuing through October 13. Furthermore, it includes customized virtual Cybersight courses that will precede and complement the in-person training. This project will also encompass interdisciplinary subspecialty training, including specialized instruction in cataract surgery, which is 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, a longstanding supporter of Orbis for more than four decades, is sponsoring the initial portion of this project. Their unwavering commitment has included substantial financial contributions towards the Flying Eye Hospital.
"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."