Flying Eye Hospital arrives at Cabatuan Airport
Sight-saving surgeries start in Iloilo

Cabatuan, Iloilo, Philippines
By Vicente W. Villavert, Thursday 23rd of February 2012

ILOILO CITY, Feb 23 (PIA 6) -- Residents of Western Visayas who are visually impaired will directly benefit from sight-saving surgeries conducted by the FedEx and ORBIS International at the Flying Eye Hospital at the Iloilo Airport as part of a global initiative to combat preventable and treatable blindness.

At the opening program held February 21 at the Iloilo Airport, Governor Arthur Defensor welcomed the medical program as “this will give the poor the opportunity to avail of the generosity to save and restore their sight, and your work will be long remembered and treasured in the hearts of the grateful people.”

Dr. Jose Mari C. Fermin, Medical Center Chief of the Western Visayas Medical Center said that about 10 persons are undergoing eye operation at their hospital every day but lamented that “we cannot sustain it alone with our minimal budget.”

Fermin said that about 3 to 5 persons for every 50 people in Western Visayas are bilaterally blind.

“The coming of the Orbis is a very big help to us because of your state of the art facilities and the trainings that will be conducted with our local eye care providers,” Fermin said.

Flying Eye Hospital Medical Director Dr. Carlos Solarte said that the eye care program has been carried out in 89 countries and provided treatment to more than 15 million blind and visually impaired persons, through the Flying Eye Hospital- a converted DC-10 aircraft and the world’s only ophthalmic surgical and training hospital with wings.

“Orbis is an organization that promote the improve and sutainable eye care in the place where we go by training and teaching all those involve in the eye care community like the ophthalmologists, nursies, anaesthesiologists, biomedical engineers and every single position that play proper eye care and the promotion of eye health,” Solarte said.

Dr. Josefina Salazar-Yap, President of the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology-Western Visayas Chapter noted that the “technical expertise that we will imbibe out of this rare opportunity will directly benefit the eye patients of Western Visayas”.

For two weeks in Iloilo, in partnership with the Western Visayas Medical Center, mthe ORBIS medical team will conduct an intensive skills exchange program for eye care professionals and deliver sight-saving surgeries to pre-screened patients suffering from visual impairment. On the third week, ORBIS will complement and reinforce this training by extending its medical program to include a Hospital-Based Program in Bacolod, in partnership with the Corazon Locasin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital.

The Orbis and FedEx press report disclosed that among the 7,107nislands of the Philippines, there are approximately 100 million people, of which more than 600,000 are blind.The Philippines provides first rate ophthalmic expertise and care, as well as advanced private care to those who can afford it. However, for those living in the provincial communities, access to healthcare, including ophthalmic care is poor and can be extremely difficult to access.

Dr. Solarte said during the opening program that ORBIS and FedEx have programs in the Philippine- in Manila, Davao, Subic Bay and Cebu and “we are pleased and proud that we are celebrating our 30 years of sight-saving work in the Philippines aith Orbis Flying Hospital in Iloilo, and this ophthalmic program is the first in Western Visayas.

FedEx Express managing director for the Philippines and Indonesia said that “as leading aviation sponsor for three decades, FedEx continues to support ORBIS’s sight-saving programs around the world, through our extensive global network and aviation expertise. This year’s program in the Western Visayas region gives FedEx another opportunity to help ORBIS deliver long term and sustainable solutions to preventable blindness in the Philippine community”.(JCM/VWV/PIA 6-Iloilo)

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