Local doctor, Mr John Brookes, consultant ophthalmic surgeon from Brighton, has just returned home from a sight-saving assignment having swapped his regular daily commute to Moorfields Eye Hospital, for the bustle of Kolkata.
As a medical volunteer for ORBIS (www.orbis.org.uk), an international sight saving charity, John taught local doctors vital skills for treating ophthalmic conditions that are common to the area and have robbed the community of a brighter future.
The issue of preventable blindness has reached staggering proportions. 39 million people in the world are blind but 80% could be treated or cured. 90% of these people are in developing countries where eye care facilities are often limited.
Simple, cheap and quick operations like that of removing a cataract can save a person from losing their livelihood, independence and stop them becoming a burden to their family. But the skill and equipment needed to help are often lacking in the places where they are most at need. ORBIS works tirelessly to change this situation and over the years has helped to further educate 262,000 medical professionals.
John worked with the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, a plane which hosts a fully equipped operating theatre and laser suite, with dedicated teaching facilities onboard. Through their missions and training, ORBIS has to date helped to provide 23 million treatments in 92 countries.
John has been involved with the charity for three years, having previously travelled to Mongolia and China on similar missions. He obtained his private pilot’s licence in 2004 and these volunteer projects have combined two of his favourite things, ophthalmology and flying.
Dr John Brookes says; “Over the years I have volunteered in India six times and was pleased with the prospect of returning. Interestingly, my first case was a six year old girl whose mother had been treated by ORBIS in 1993. She has done outstandingly well and it was fantastic to see a true success story. Her daughters operation was a routine glaucoma procedure and progressed without complications. It was lovely to know the charity had helped to two generations from one family and to be a part of that.
“I very much enjoy volunteering with ORBIS and find it a very worthy charity, primarily due to the fact that their aim is to teach, train and educate the local ophthalmologists, anaesthetists and nurses in order to equip these teams to better manage eye conditions prevalent in their community.”
He continues: “As a result, techniques and knowledge can be disseminated across the region and reach more people, which sadly, is much needed in this part of the world.”
For information on ORBIS or further images, please contact Natasha Lee, Communications Officer on 020 7608 7284 or Nlee@orbis.org.uk
Notes to Editor:
ORBIS provides the tools, training and technology necessary for local hospitals to develop workable and lasting solutions to fight the tragedy of unnecessary blindness.
By building their long-term capabilities, ORBIS helps its partner institutions take action - to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable.
To learn more about ORBIS, please visit www.orbis.org.uk