London - November 22, 2007 - ORBIS, a nonprofit humanitarian organisation dedicated to blindness prevention and treatment in developing countries, and FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), the world’s largest express transportation company, today announced the arrival of FedEx Fellow Dr. Thomas Cherian, to study paediatric eye care at Moorfields Eye Hospital.
Dr. Cherian has been awarded a two-month educational opportunity as part of the global FedEx Fellowship programme that supports advanced medical training for dedicated ophthalmologists from hospitals at the heart of the fight against blindness. Over the next five years, 10 ophthalmologists from developing nations, where 90 percent of the world’s blind reside, will be selected as FedEx Fellows.
“The FedEx Fellowship program was created to boost the ophthalmic knowledge-base in developing nations. I am delighted to welcome Dr. Cherian to Britain as a FedEx Fellow to study at one of Britain’s—and the world’s—best eye hospitals in order learn new skills to take back to India,” said William Martin, Managing Director, UK Operations at FedEx Express.
“By connecting the worlds of business, charity and academia, the fellowship program will make a visible difference in the quality of people’s lives, enabling ophthalmologists to learn from the very best in their field, and then return to the forefront of their nation’s blindness prevention work,” said Eugene Helveston, M.D., ophthalmologist-in-chief, ORBIS International.
In April 2007, more than 120 ophthalmologists, 50 optometrists and 12 nurses gathered in Mumbai and participated in skills exchange, surgeries and lectures as part of the FedEx-sponsored ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program. At the end of the two-week training initiative, ORBIS and the Indian ophthalmic community awarded the second FedEx Fellowship to Dr. Cherian, a general ophthalmologist from Little Flower Hospital in Kerala, India.
As the first FedEx Fellow to be accepted by the renowned Moorfields, Dr. Cherian will be working under the tutelage of Miss Gill Adams, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon and a leading specialist in paediatric ophthalmology. His fellowship training will focus on a disease of the retina called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which affects premature babies and is caused when normal blood vessel growth stops in the retina.
If left untreated, ROP can cause irreversible blindness. While the U.K. automatically screens for the condition, it is rarely diagnosed or treated in many developing countries, largely because the doctors do not know how to identify and screen for this sight-threatening disease.
“I am so grateful to both ORBIS and FedEx for this wonderful opportunity to learn and serve my country. ROP is a growing problem in India and we do not have enough expertise to treat it,” said Dr. Cherian. “I will share the knowledge I gain during this fellowship with my fellow doctors in India, so that, together, we can reach more children before ROP robs them of their sight and sentences them to a life of irreversible blindness.”
Miss Adams has been a volunteer ophthalmic surgeon with ORBIS since 2000 and has travelled all over the world, sharing her skills with local doctors in countries such as India, China, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Bulgaria.
The FedEx Fellowship programme is part of FedEx’s global support of ORBIS’ work to reduce avoidable blindness in developing countries. FedEx has been a key corporate supporter of ORBIS for more than 20 years and continues to collaborate on this and other sight saving programmes around the world through the global “Delivering Sight Worldwide” initiative.
ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS programs have enhanced the skills of over 154,000 eye care professionals in 85 countries and have provided direct eye care treatment to more than 4.4 million people. To learn more about ORBIS, visit www.orbis.org.uk
FedEx is the world's largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date with a money-back guarantee.
- Every single minute a child goes blind, and in developing countries 50 percent of these children will die within two years of loosing their sight.
- 37 million people worldwide are blind―yet 75 percent of all blindness is treatable or preventable. Ninety percent of these people live in developing countries.
- ORBIS is an international development organisation that works to eliminate avoidable blindness in developing countries by transferring sight saving skills to local medical professionals.
- ORBIS works in partnership with local hospitals, governments and communities to create long-term projects that strengthen the capacity of eye care facilities and raise awareness of avoidable blindness in countries such as Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. ORBIS programmes focus on childhood blindness and improving sustainable access to remote rural communities in the world's poorest countries.
- ORBIS also travels across the world carrying out training projects onboard their unique Flying Eye Hospital, a DC-10 aircraft specially converted into a mobile teaching eye hospital.
- Photos from ORBIS programmes are available upon request.
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