All set for surgeries in flying hospital

CHENNAI NOV. 7 . An ORBIS International Flying Eye Hospital programme was launched here today with the Governor, P.S. Ramamohan Rao, formally inaugurating the First Chennai initiative and 13th plane programme in India, focussing on preventable and curable blindness among children.

Giving details of the ORBIS, a non-profit humanitarian organisation, its India director, G.V. Rao, told a news conference here that during the three-week stopover in Chennai, the 23-member team would perform surgeries aboard the aircraft and also at local partnering institutions in Chennai and the TSM Hospital, Salem.

"The overseas ophthalmology experts will demonstrate various clinical examination and surgical techniques. We believe that the DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital Programme would enhance the skills of the local eye care professionals and specialists."

The director said blindness in four out of 10 children in India was preventable. ``That is what drives ORBIS. Childhood blindness is a priority of its India country programme". The ORBIS was committed to reducing corneal blindness in India and had been supporting local hospitals for improved collection of cornea through the hospital-based Corneal Retrieval Programme.

Dr. Rao said a long-standing partnership would be forged with the Sankara Nethralaya and the Government Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Egmore, targeting ophthalmologists and other healthcare professionals and transferring technical skills and knowledge necessary to prevent and treat blindness.

The director, Government Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Jayalakshmi, said the ORBIS programme would benefit junior ophthalmologists in Tamil Nadu, besides synergising the institute's endeavours.

The chairman, Sankara Nethralaya, S.S. Badrinath, said the programme would be an interesting exposure to postgraduate students, besides helping in upgrading the training skills of nurses and bio-engineers especially during eye surgeries and post-operative care.

The president, Madras City Ophthalmologists Association, Ananda Kannan, (under whose invitation the flying hospital has come to Chennai), said Tamil Nadu was already a pioneer in treating various kinds of visual impairment, especially among children.

The director of the Flying Eye Hospital, Ray Leclair, said the programme was possible with the support of the Ronald McDonald House of Charities.

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