Doha, September 22 (QNA) – The world’s only Flying Eye Care hospital, housed within a DC-10 aircraft parked at the Doha International Airport (DIA), opened for visitors Saturday as part of its four-day goodwill tour of the Middle East.
The plane brought here in partnership with the DIA and Oryx Rotana Doha by non-profit global organisation ORBIS which is celebrating this year the 30th anniversary of empowering, training and providing technology for eye hospitals in developing countries.
Over the next four days, the unique Flying Eye Hospital (FEH) will receive visitors from the medical, corporate and philanthropic organisations, officials said while orienting the local media with the on-board facilities.
Speaking to the media, ORBIS Chairman Dr Robert Walters said, “Around 285 million people in the world are visually impaired and have such poor vision that they cannot do daily routine work.”
Around 246 million have low vision and 39 million are estimated to be blind. “A majority of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries,” he said at the event attended by ambassadors of United States, United Kingdom and South Africa to Qatar.
Approximately 1.26 million children are blind and 19 million are visually impaired. Of all people having visual impairment 80% can be avoided or cured.
“The FEH is a unique tool that provides teaching and training to eye care professionals to empower them to take better care of people in their own communities,” said Dr Walters.
The FEH contains a complete ophthalmic operating suite, a four-bed pre-operation and recovery room, sub sterile room and laser room.
FEH Co-ordinator McKenzie Price, speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA) said, “The FEH has 12 medical staff, including four surgeons and five nurses and eight-member non-medic crew.”
FEH Director of Nursing Heather Machin said, “We provide hands on training and all our courses match international standards since we are committed to long-term relationships.”
The purpose of the FEH’s visit to Qatar is to engage the community here and spread awareness.
“Our strategy is to get the eyes and ears of the ministers, the policy-makers. We are on a fund-raising tour. It is a charity and we need to ensure that we run this service efficiently and use our donors money effectively,” said Dr Walters.
The FEH has visited 77 countries, and conducted more than 280 training and service programmes in 154 cities.
In 2011, 936 medical professionals received training on-board and are now using their skills in their local areas. 386 eye surgeries were performed, and 71 medical volunteers from around the world shared their skills and knowledge with local doctors and medical professionals.
Oryx Rotana General Manager Kevork Deldelian said, “Oryx Rotana Doha is committed to playing and an active role in supporting such a global initative to combat preventable blindness.”
“The FEH will next visit Abu Dhabi and then fly to Ethiopia and Zambia,” Dr Walters told QNA.
ORBIS plans to explore the potential of youth development schemes in Qatar where students can travel with the plane to experience the work of the medical team first-hand. (END)