New York, NY, April 1, 2009—More than 150 eye care professionals were trained and approximately 500 patients received free screening or sight-saving surgery, announced ORBIS International and FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) following the conclusion of a four-week eye health training program benefiting the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. FedEx, a global supporter of nonprofit ORBIS, generously sponsored the month-long initiative, which included activities in
Peru and the
Dominican Republic ranging from free eye surgeries and training sessions aboard the
Hospital to community outreach programs and a study on diabetic eye disease, which is among the leading cause of blindness in the region.
“The FedEx-sponsored study helps illuminate the knowledge, attitudes and practices related to diabetes and diabetic retinopathy in Trujillo, in northern Peru,” explained ORBIS Medical Director
Hunter Cherwek, M.D. “Though there is high level of awareness about diabetes and eye disease, the study showed that knowledge is not sufficient for action as only half of those studied who needed eye examinations actually went for further investigation. Armed with these insights, ORBIS will be better able to deploy resources to help local blindness prevention efforts and maximize our investments to build sustainable eye care services.”
Peer support programs for diabetics and collaborative networks with public hospitals and specialized institutions are just a few of the strategies already being discussed as a result of the FedEx study.
Two exemplary young ophthalmologists—Dr. Modesta Almanzsar from the AYBAR / CECANOT Hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Dr. Luis Fernando Geldres Del Risco of the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology in Trujillo, Peru—were selected as FedEx Fellows, an award for a one- to three-month advanced fellowship at some of the world's leading eye institutes.
“The FedEx Fellows program has been a great success since its launch in 2006 and we are proud to contribute to the ophthalmic community all over the world,” said Juan N. Cento, president, FedEx Express Latin America & Caribbean. “By working through ORBIS to support eye care training in
Peru and the
Dominican Republic, we aim to provide a boost to the ophthalmic expertise in the region by enabling local doctors to learn from the very best in their field, and then return to the frontline of blindness prevention work in their local communities, especially in rural areas.”
During the four-week eye health training program ORBIS International’s flagship Flying Eye Hospital, a DC-10 aircraft containing an operating room and training facilities, first visited Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (February 9 – 20) and then headed to Trujillo, Peru (February 23 - March 6). In both locations, training and community activities were designed to complement in-country eye care programs already in place and leave behind the skills needed for local eye care professionals to better treat prevalent causes of vision loss in their respective countries and in neighboring nations.
Volunteerism played a major role in the success of the programs. In both countries, more than 30 FedEx volunteers joined the ORBIS team in program activities including transforming the
Hospital from airplane to hospital mode, delivering medical supplies and equipment to local hospitals and joining ORBIS staff in the community during several advocacy projects.
“FedEx employees from every level worked side-by-side with us through both programs,” said Perry Athanason, communications manager aboard the
Hospital. “FedEx is family and that sentiment never felt stronger than working with the staff from
Santo Domingo and
Peru on the plane, at the local hospitals and in the community.”
About ORBIS International
ORBIS International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. ORBIS provides the tools, training and technology necessary for local partners to assess their needs and develop workable and lasting solutions to 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 orbis.org.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $38 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 290,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.