Posted on September 21, 2013

HRH The Countess of Wessex will be arriving in Doha tomorrow as part of an international campaign to raise awareness on prevention and treatment of blindness, an affliction that affects some 1.5 million children around the world. The Countess will be accompanied by the renowned ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital - the world’s only eye hospital housed within a DC-10 airplane, which returns to Doha International Airport (DIA).

HRH The Countess of Wessex, who is a longstanding patron of global initiatives to prevent and treat blindness amongst underprivileged communities around the world, will lead a series of events and meetings in Qatar to further build on the strong partnerships and alliances that were forged last year when ORBIS made its inaugural visit to Qatar. HRH will participate in a series of tours for local organisations in Qatar to visit the aircraft and experience its sophisticated facilities, which include a fully equipped ophthalmic operating suite, a four bed pre-operation and recovery room, as well as a sub sterile and laser room.

The Countess’ visit to Doha in conjunction with the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital is part of the organisation’s goodwill tour to build on the crucial support that enables it to expand its sight-saving efforts throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. Close to 90 per cent of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries. According to ORBIS, 80 per cent of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured, which makes its Flying Eye Hospital a vital lifeline for many of those affected.

“DIA is truly honoured to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex to Doha and to support the important global cause of preventing avoidable child blindness. We also look forward to once again hosting ORBIS on our airport grounds and providing the community in Qatar with the opportunity to witness the incredible work that the organization is doing to train eye care experts and extend sight-saving care to millions of communities around the world through its Flying Eye Hospital,” said Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways and DIA.


ORBIS’ return to Qatar follows on the back of its successful visit last year, where with the support of DIA, a series of tours for schools and corporations were facilitated on board the aircraft within the airport premises. It was an opportunity for ORBIS to share important insights on how blindness, especially in children in many rural countries, can be prevented or treated with early intervention and proper care.

This year, DIA will again extend its support to ORBIS to raise further awareness by paving the way for even more community and corporate groups in Qatar to understand the importance of the cause. ORBIS’ crew of medical professionals will be on hand to answer questions about the unique aircraft and the way in which it empowers eye care teams in developing countries to treat their own communities.

ORBIS prevents and treats blindness through hands-on teaching and training, public health education, improved access to treatment and quality eye care, and partnerships with local health care organisations in an effort to eliminate avoidable blindness. It is estimated that some 285 million people in the world are visually impaired, either partially or completely blind. Some 1.5 million children are blind and 19 million more are visually impaired.

Since, 1982 ORBIS has conducted training programs in 92 countries, including those visited by the Flying Eye Hospital. In 2012, ORBIS and its partners provided some 4,500,000 treatments, more than 55,545 surgeries and trained over 20,830 doctors, nurses and others.

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