ORBIS to Use Alcon’s Gift for Global Programs to Stop Unnecessary Vision Loss
New York, New York, June 28, 2005
– Alcon, Inc. (NYSE: ACL) awarded ORBIS International a USD $1 million grant for programs to prevent and cure blindness in the developing world. The grant, which spans a two-year period, is the single largest financial commitment made to date in the 26-year alliance between the world’s leading eye care company and the international humanitarian organization.
Ninety percent of the world’s 37 million blind people live in developing nations where the availability of quality eye care service and sight-restoring technology is severely limited. According to the World Health Organization, an additional 124 million children and adults are at risk of permanently losing their sight. In the coming years, blindness caused by age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma is expected to climb to staggering new heights as the world’s population rapidly expands and life expectancy increases. Yet 80 percent of these cases could be prevented or cured with existing medical treatments readily available in the United States.
"At Alcon, we recognize the urgency in addressing avoidable blindness which is why we increased our support of ORBIS. By partnering with this organization, we believe critically needed eye care resources will reach more communities – and individuals – in time to preserve, protect and restore their vision," said Jacqualyn Fouse, Alcon’s senior VP of finance and CFO. Fouse joined ORBIS’s board of directors in June 2004 when Alcon became a top member of the
Alliance for Sight, a dedicated group of corporations and foundations working through ORBIS to build sustainable solutions to the problem of avoidable blindness.
Alcon launches the first of many activities funded through the grant as the Official Sponsor of the K K Prefecture Flying Eye Hospital Program. From July 2-15, the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, a specially outfitted DC-10 aircraft equipped with an operating room and teaching facility on board, and its multi-national medical team, will be in China’s rural southwestern Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture (K K Prefecture) near the Kyrgyzstan border conducting a two-week, intensive training program for nearly 100 local doctors, nurses and other essential eye care personnel.
"We are pleased to announce that an assessment will soon begin to determine the most appropriate piece of ophthalmic surgical equipment for Alcon to donate to ORBIS’s local partner, the K K Prefecture Hospital. The appropriate equipment and professional training is essential to accomplishing the goal of best ophthalmic surgical outcomes for the people of Kashi," said Fouse, who is heading to China to meet the ORBIS team and review their local eye care projects.
Since 1979, Alcon has contributed more than $5 million to the New York-based charity. The recent $1 million grant, which is the largest philanthropic gift ever made by a US eye care company, will be bolstered by:
- Continued gift-in-kind medical supplies and ophthalmic equipment for ORBIS projects worldwide.
- An employee volunteer program through which Alcon biomedical technicians and lead trainers conduct intensive skill-transfer programs at local hospitals and on board the ORBIS aircraft.
- Participation in public education and awareness-building programs targeting at risk populations on how to protect and preserve the precious gift of sight.
"It’s heartening to see a major corporation like Alcon demonstrate such a humanitarian spirit. Every moment, every step of the way, Alcon has been a tremendous partner to ORBIS. Together, we are leading the way to a world without blindness," said Oliver Foot, ORBIS president and executive director.
Alcon, Inc. (www.alcon.com) has been serving the ophthalmic industry for more than 50 years. Alcon develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contact lens solutions and other vision care products that treat diseases, disorders and other conditions of the eye.
ORBIS (www.orbis.org), an international nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight and eliminating avoidable blindness worldwide, responds to the needs of developing nations with hands-on training for eye care professionals, public education about blindness and technical assistance to improve access to quality ophthalmic services. ORBIS programs have enhanced the skills of approximately 90,000 eye care professionals in 83 countries, who have in turn provided care to 20 million blind and visually impaired people.
For information, contact:
Brooke Johnson, Public Relations, ORBIS International, +1 (646)361-0061, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Massey, Alcon Strategic Corporate Communications, +1(817)551-8058, email@example.com