Flying high on a donation

Orbis receives a three-year $1m (USD) contribution to support its work

21 Jun 2017 by Emily McCormick, Laurence Derbyshire

A charity that provides eye care and training around the world via a flying eye hospital has received a $1m (USD) contribution over a three-year period from UTC Aerospace Systems.

Working to eliminate avoidable blindness, Orbis’ Flying Eye Hospital conducts multiple programmes each year, training doctors, nurses and other eye care professionals, while also providing sight-saving and restorative surgeries. This year it will land in Vietnam, Cameroon and Bangladesh. 

Volunteers on the Flying Eye Hospital visit countries with under-resourced medical services and train local health care workers on its fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft.

Orbis’ recently released third-generation Flying Eye Hospital landed in Stansted earlier this year, with supporters, press and volunteers given the opportunity to tour the aircraft, which was donated by FedEx and took around five years to complete. 

Commenting on the donation, president of UTC Aerospace System, Dave Gitlin, explained: “Our 41,000-plus employees strive every day to be the best at what we do. That includes focusing our charitable contributions in ways that will have a meaningful impact on the world. We are proud to align with Orbis, and we look forward to supporting their efforts on the ground and in the air.” 

A total of 285 million people globally are blind or visually impaired, yet 80% of these cases are curable, treatable or preventable, according to the World Health Organization. 

Furthermore, 90% of people who are blind from avoidable causes live in low-income settings where quality eye care is limited or non-existent. 

Orbis’ Flying Eye Hospital has visited more than 92 countries since 1982. In 2016 alone, the charity provided 40,321 training courses, conducted 3.53 million eye screenings and performed 82,587 surgeries through both its Flying Eye Hospital and at partner institutions.

President and CEO of Orbis, Bob Ranck, said: “Restoring vision is one of the most cost-effective, efficient ways to break the cycle of poverty, and we believe that no one should lose their sight to something that is curable. Through the generous support of UTC Aerospace Systems, we can continue to expand our efforts to bring people together in the fight for sight and improve eye care around the globe.”


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