Hospital promotes cooperation and understanding through the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness
Kuwait, April 22, 2008 —Today, ORBIS International, operator of the world’s only flying eye hospital, a state-of-the-art surgical training institute housed inside a DC-10 aircraft, welcomed government officials and leaders of
Kuwait’s ophthalmic community aboard for a special tour of this unique aircraft at
Kuwait’s new general aviation airport. The purpose of the inaugural visit to
Kuwait is to introduce the work of ORBIS in the hope of widening the international network of people dedicated to eliminating the growing tragedy of unnecessary blindness.
The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital visit to Kuwait is sponsored by Amphion Innovations plc (LSE: AMP), a developer and operator of companies in the life sciences and medical technology sectors, and the American-Kuwaiti Alliance, a U.S.-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to expanding and deepening the political, commercial and cultural ties between the U.S. and Kuwait.
“We are extremely grateful to Amphion Innovations and the American-Kuwaiti Alliance for hosting our visit,” said Geoffrey Holland, ORBIS International executive director and CEO. “The ORBIS plane is a global ambassador of goodwill, and we deeply thank our friends in
Kuwait for their own goodwill in making us so welcome. ORBIS is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide, where 28 million people are needlessly blind. That’s more than 10 times the population of
Kuwait. This is a terrible tragedy, and we appreciate all the help we can get.”
Blindness knows no boundaries
According to the World Health Organization, 37 million people worldwide are blind—yet 28 million of them don’t have to be. Their blindness could have been prevented, or their eyesight restored, with access to proper eye care.
Middle East, cataracts account for nearly half of all cases of blindness, followed by corneal scars and glaucoma. Having conducted three sight-saving programs in
Syria since 1997, ORBIS is a proponent of supportive national eye care services and policies in the
Middle East—an area of concern most recently acted upon by the members of the Arab League Council of Health Ministers.
The head Islamic figure in Syria, the
Grand Mufti, visited the Flying Eye
Hospital to see post-operative
corneal transplant patients.
The Council passed a resolution requesting the director general of the World Health Organization to activate and implement a national blindness prevention action plan, which was first proposed by the
Saudi Arabia and passed during the 60th session of the World Health Assembly last year. The Council is also calling for member countries to support and seek implementation of this proposal at the upcoming 61st World Health Assembly.
By connecting business with charity, ORBIS is able to design substantial programs that improve local ophthalmic skills, strengthen health care facilities, and foster ongoing awareness of eye health. These programs make it possible for organizations like Amphion Innovations and the American-Kuwaiti Alliance, who share the common vision of a world in which no one is needlessly blind, to get involved.
Richard Morgan, CEO of Amphion Innovations said, "Amphion is delighted to be a sponsor of this visit by the ORBIS team to
Kuwait. We hope that this goodwill visit will lead to an expansion of blindness prevention programs in the Gulf and the wider region. We look forward to future visits to the region promoting an exchange of expertise and skills between ophthalmologists worldwide.”
ORBIS deeply appreciates the kindness of the people of
Kuwait especially the Ministry of the Interior, Kuwait Airlines, National Aviation Services and Mercury Air Group, Inc. for their generous donation of goods and services, which has helped make this visit possible.
It all began on a plane – The
Twenty-six years ago, a dedicated medical team boarded the
Hospital for its maiden flight carrying precious cargo—corneas, lenses, microscopes and operating tools. Their mission was clear—to perform eye surgeries and provide hands-on training while local doctors, nurses and other health care personnel from the host country watched, learned and practiced.
Hospital has become an international icon. It is a symbol of hope and an unprecedented advocate for sight. It is flown across the globe by volunteer pilots from FedEx Express and United Airlines, and its international medical team conducts intensive treatment and training programs. Leading eye surgeons volunteer their time to perform surgery and teach aboard the aircraft during programs specifically designed to suit the skills-level of host countries.
Since 1982, ORBIS programs have benefited people in 86 countries, enhancing the skills of more than 195,000 health care personnel and providing eye care treatment for more than 6.8 million people. At the same time, ORBIS has been building up the local capacity of eye care institutions through comprehensive long-term development programs tailored to the specific needs of ORBIS-sponsored partners in developing countries. In addition to clinical training aboard the
Hospital and in local hospitals, this also includes technical assistance in effective disease control, monitoring and evaluation, human resource and organizational development, infrastructure and technology and community partnership.
To learn more about ORBIS, review the 2008 schedule of the
Hospital or watch a video about ORBIS’ work, please visit www.orbis.org.
About Amphion Innovations plc
Amphion Innovations plc creates shareholder value in high-growth companies in the medical and technology sectors by using a focused, hands-on company building approach, based on decades of experience in both the US and UK. With strong ties throughout the Gulf region, Amphion Partner Company, Motif Biosciences Inc., works to accelerate the discovery of genetic variation involved in common diseases. Further strengthening its ties in the region, in 2007, Amphion and its Kuwaiti partners formed MSA, a Gulf-based joint venture, which enables far-sighted global investors and institutions to participate in the next stage of the Gulf’s technological and life sciences development by investing in local companies while attracting and developing the best young Arab and Western entrepreneurial talent. For more information, please visit the Amphion website, www.amphionplc.com.
About the American-Kuwaiti
Established in 2003, the purpose of the American-Kuwaiti Alliance is to help foster existing U.S.-Kuwaiti relations by facilitating expanded political relationships and policies, promoting increased trade and commerce and creating opportunities for American and Kuwaiti citizens to exchange cultural experiences. The American-Kuwaiti Alliance was formed to help achieve these goals for the benefit of the people of the
Kuwait and the Gulf region as a whole. For more information, please visit the AKA website, www.americakuwait.org.