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Orbis International Teams Up with the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA to Improve Eye Care in Zambia

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital returns to Zambia for a three-week training project in Lusaka.




Orbis International Teams Up with the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA to Improve Eye Care in Zambia

Kapiya, 4-years-old, has an eye exam by an Orbis-trained community health worker in Mufulira, Zambia.

(PRESS RELEASE) LUSAKA, ZM – Global eye care nonprofit, Orbis International, is kicking off a surgical training program in Zambia on board the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital – the world’s only fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board a plane. There, Orbis clinical staff and Volunteer Faculty (medical experts) will provide hands-on simulation and surgical training to eye care professionals from across Zambia. For the first time, Zambian ophthalmologists trained through Orbis-sponsored and other fellowships will work alongside Flying Eye Hospital staff and Volunteer Faculty to deliver simulation training to ophthalmology residents. With continuing support from the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA, this collaboration will focus on improving adult and pediatric eye care in Zambia, where it’s estimated that at least 4% of the population experiences blindness that could be avoided, and there exists only one ophthalmologist per 556,000 Zambians, leaving eye care needs largely unmet.

This project marks the second time the Flying Eye Hospital has held a training project in Zambia – the first taking place in Ndola in 2012 with a focus on pediatric ophthalmology. This will be the first project of its kind to take place in the capital city, Lusaka. Training activities will occur on the Flying Eye Hospital, currently located at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, and at Orbis’s partner University Teaching Hospitals-Eye Hospital. 

The project will provide three weeks of combined simulation and hands-on surgical training from today through October 13, along with tailored virtualCybersight courses that will precede and complement in-person training. The project will also deliver interdisciplinary subspecialty training, including for cataract, the leading cause of blindness in Zambia.

“This partnership between Orbis and University Teaching Hospitals-Eye Hospital marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to address avoidable blindness and vision loss in Zambia,” said Lucia Nadaf, Country Director of Orbis Zambia. “We are grateful to the Alcon Foundation and OMEGA for their contributions to this project, which will allow us to take significant strides towards improving diagnosis, treatment and management of eye conditions across the country.”

The Alcon Foundation, sponsoring the first half of the project, has been a generous supporter of Orbis for over forty years, providing monetary donations for the Flying Eye Hospital. Alcon Cares has provided additional support to the Flying Eye Hospital with donations of state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment, surgical products, and supplies. Alcon’s expert biomedical engineers and trainers also participate in Orbis programs, sharing their skills and knowledge to help program participants learn to operate and maintain critical medical technology, and will lead a biomedical engineering workshop in Lusaka during the current project. Most recently, Alcon supported the Flying Eye Hospital project held in Texas in 2022, Orbis’s first in-person project on the plane following the start of the pandemic. 


“Alcon sees a world where treatable, preventable conditions that affect individuals’ eye health receive the attention they need, when they need it, regardless of geography, gender, age or socioeconomic status,” said Royce Bedward, President, the Alcon Foundation. “We know that the only way to make quality eye care more available and accessible is by cultivating self-sustaining eye health ecosystems, and developing well-trained eye care teams is an integral part of that work. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Orbis in Zambia to increase access to eye care and help people see and live brilliantly.”

OMEGA, sponsoring the second half of the project, has been a proud supporter of Orbis since 2011. OMEGA is not only an avid supporter of Flying Eye Hospital projects – including a first-of-its-kind training project held in Doha, Qatar, last year for women in eye care from conflict-affected areas – they also work in cooperation with its celebrity brand ambassadors to increase awareness of Orbis and its mission. 

“I’m always deeply impressed by the work of our friends at Orbis and the latest initiative in Zambia is further proof of the team’s commitment to its mission, “said Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA. “It’s a huge source of pride to know that OMEGA is playing an important role in this life-changing work.”

Orbis is grateful for additional support for this Flying Eye Hospital project from Aumund Foundation, which is covering costs for surgical treatment services and training tools and supplies. Aumund Foundation has partnered with Orbis since 2020 and supported programs in Nepal.



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