Four-Week Skills Exchange Program to Strengthen Blindness Prevention Initiatives Throughout Eastern and Western Java, Indonesia
New York, NY – June 14, 2010 – Alcon Inc. (NYSE: ACL), the world’s leading eye care company, sponsors a four-week ophthalmic skills exchange and surgical program through ORBIS International’s signature Flying Eye Hospital – a state-of-the-art hospital with wings. ORBIS and its global team of volunteer eye care specialist, today begin an intensive four-week, two city program in Indonesia (June 14-25 in Jakarta; June 28-July 9 in Surabaya) aboard this one-of-a-kind DC10 surgical aircraft. The program offers Indonesian eye care professionals of all disciplines multiple subspecialty training required to address the country’s dire eye heath needs.
This ORBIS program provides continuing medical education for Indonesian ophthalmologists; biomedical engineers, anesthesiologists and nurses, while advocating for increased public awareness and key policy changes. In addition, Alcon engineers will volunteer their time to work side-by-side with Indonesian medical technicians on how to properly fix and maintain much needed ophthalmic equipment within their hospitals.
“We believe significant decreases in the number of preventably blind individuals requires the development of local, sustainable eye care services made available through well trained eye care professionals,” said Sara Woodward, director of Corporate Giving, Alcon. “Through ORBIS’ skills-exchange programs and partnerships with medical facilities worldwide we are able to contribute to the advancement of ophthalmology in the developing world and help eye care professionals of all disciplines receive access to continuing medical education opportunities.”
Invited by the Indonesian Ophthalmic Association and hosted by the Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo National Hospital, the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program focuses on subspecialty training in pediatrics (cataract/strabismus), glaucoma (adult & pediatric), cornea, medical retina; and advanced ophthalmology including phacoemulsification cataract surgery and ocular oncology. The ORBIS volunteer medical team will transfer critical sight-saving skills to more than 200 eye care professionals from local hospitals using hands-on surgical training, live surgical demonstrations, lectures and workshops.
“Like ORBIS, Alcon is dedicated to reducing the incidence of preventable blindness worldwide,” said Dr. Hunter Cherwek, medical director, ORBIS International. “Their sponsorship of ORBIS, which has spanned our organization’s 28-year existence, strengthens our mission of preventing and treating blindness by providing quality eye care to transform lives.”
In 2009, Alcon together with The Alcon Foundation donated over $61 million in cash and products to support charitable activities, including patient access assistance programs for low income patients, and more than 1,000 medical missions in more than 100 countries that restore vision to those without access to eye care services. Alcon also supports ongoing medical training in the latest eye care technologies by maintaining more than 200 training locations around the world, many of them located in emerging markets.
Blindness in Indonesia
According to the World Health Organization, South-East Asia has a disproportionately high prevalence of blindness. One-third of the world’s blind live in South-East Asia, which has one quarter of the global population. Of the twelve people going blind in the world every minute, four are from South- East Asia.
Furthermore, the Indonesian Ministry of Health calculates that blindness in Indonesia affects approximately 1.3 million people – the highest among Asian countries – and studies have suggested that 3-8% of the population have some form of impaired vision.
Some Facts on the Prevention of Blindness Worldwide:
Globally, about 85% of all visual impairment and 75% of blindness could be prevented or cured worldwide. Areas of significant prevention progress on a global scale include:
- Further development of eye health care services, which has led to increased availability and affordability;
- Increased commitment to prevention and cure from national leaders, medical professionals and private and corporate partners;
- Higher awareness and use of eye health care services by patients and the general population; and
- Implementation of effective eye health strategies to eliminate infectious causes of vision loss.
ORBIS and Alcon – Leading the Way to a World Without Blindness
For more than 25 years, Alcon has supported ORBIS’ sight-saving programs and initiatives worldwide. In 2009, Alcon strengthened its commitment to ORBIS by renewing its global sponsor status for a further two-year period. This grant, of more than $2.7 million, provides cash and medical gifts-in-kind. It also increases Alcon’s support of training initiatives in developing countries through a combination of Flying Eye Hospital programs, hospital-based programs, fellowships and online Cyber-Sight telemedicine consultations.
Over the years, Alcon has donated state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment, pharmaceuticals and supplies for the Flying Eye Hospital and its partner hospitals around the world, making it possible for ORBIS volunteer ophthalmologists to teach advanced surgical techniques to doctors in the developing world. Additionally the Alcon Volunteer Biomedical Corps, a dedicated group of Alcon biomedical technicians, participate in ORBIS training programs and share their skills with those in developing countries.
For more information, please contact Melissa Mota for Alcon at Melissa.email@example.com, or Jennifer Berman for ORBIS International at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Alcon, Inc.
Alcon, Inc. is the world's leading eye care company. Alcon, which has been dedicated to the ophthalmic industry for more than 65 years, researches, develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contact lens care solutions and other vision care products that treat diseases, disorders and other conditions of the eye. To learn more about Alcon, please visit www.alcon.com.
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 www.orbis.org.