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ORBIS International's Flying Eye Hospital Returns to Myanmar

U.S. Based International NGO Prepares for Two-Week Eye Health Program in Mandalay

NEW YORK, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- By invitation from the Myanmar Ministry of Health and the Mandalay Eye and ENT Hospital, ORBIS International, a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide, returns to Myanmar to conduct its ninth Flying Eye Hospital program there. The program will be held in Mandalay from February 25 to March 7, 2008.

Working together with the Burmese ophthalmic community, ORBIS activities will augment efforts already underway to fight avoidable blindness by providing training for ophthalmologists, anesthetists, nurses and biomedical technicians. ORBIS will also work with policymakers to educate the public on eye health and blindness prevention.

"There is a real thirst for medical knowledge in Myanmar, especially from the West. Since 1991 ORBIS has provided rare opportunities for the ophthalmic community to participate in international skills-exchange programs," said Dr. Hunter Cherwek, Flying Eye Hospital medical director. "Our motivation for returning and conducting this program is the great impact achieved over the last 17 years."

Eye experts from North America will share their skills and knowledge with more than 60 eye health care professionals in Myanmar during the two-week program, which will be comprised of approximately 70 eye and laser surgeries, lectures, hands-on and simulator training, live surgical demonstrations, and wet-lab sessions. Joining ORBIS from the United States will be volunteer faculty members:

-- Dr. Sai Gandham, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY

-- Dr. Mark Cepela, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

-- Dr. Arshad Bil Ragan, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

-- Dr. Roberto Pineda, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

-- Dr. Charlene Hsu-Winges, University of California, San Francisco, CA

-- Dr. Hardeep Dhindsa, Nevada Retina Associates, Reno, NV

-- Dr. Jin Kim, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

-- Sandy Burnett, RN, Shands Hospital, Gainesville, FL

ORBIS in Myanmar -- A History of Helping

Since 1991, ORBIS has conducted eight Flying Eye Hospital programs in Myanmar and more than 10 hospital-based programs covering a range of surgical and medical topics. With ORBIS' assistance, Myanmar established an eye bank in 1994 and is now a member of the International Federation of Eye and Tissue Banks. ORBIS also helped the country better manage its cataract backlog by introducing ophthalmologists to the extracapsular cataract extraction technique in 1992, and then to phacoemulsification five years later. These and other new surgical techniques introduced by ORBIS in Myanmar have brought the country's capacities more in line with interventions routinely used in affluent nations.

Cause of Blindness in Myanmar

An estimated 252,000 people are blind in Myanmar, with the regions of Pegu, Rakhine and Mandalay seeing the highest prevalence of blindness. The main causes of blindness in Myanmar are cataract (63%), glaucoma (16%) and trachoma (4%).


ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS volunteers and staff have restored the vision and transformed the lives of more than 4.4 million people in 85 countries. At the same time, ORBIS has been building local capacity to provide eye care in those countries by training more than 154,000 eye care professionals aboard the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital and in local hospitals in developing countries. Long-term national blindness prevention programs also take place in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. To learn more about ORBIS, visit

SOURCE ORBIS International
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