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ORBIS and FedEx Launch Sight-Saving Programs to Combat Avoidable Blindness in Latin America & the Caribbean

February 17, 2009

NEW YORK, February 17, 2009 — ORBIS International and FedEx are delivering four weeks of eye health training to local ophthalmic communities in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Trujillo, Peru between February 9 – March 6, 2009. Utilizing ORBIS International’s flagship Flying Eye Hospital — a state-of-the-art medical and teaching facility housed in a DC-10 aircraft — local doctors are being invited onboard to participate in intensive training activities designed to strengthen their abilities to manage and treat cases of avoidable blindness and/or vision loss (both clinically and surgically).

The programs are designed to complement in-country eye care programs already in place and leave behind the skills needed for doctors to better treat prevalent causes of blindness in their respective countries and in neighboring nations.

"The support we receive from FedEx enables the delivery of improved eye care services to numerous people, while bringing awareness of avoidable blindness to many more," said Dr. Hunter Cherwek, ORBIS medical director. "Our partners in the Dominican Republic and Peru are on track to becoming regional centers of excellence for training the next generation of local, provincial and international ophthalmologists. The unwavering support of FedEx allows for this level of intervention, training and capacity building with our partners throughout the world."

The four-week, two-country Flying Eye Hospital program teams ORBIS and FedEx with the local ophthalmic societies, which includes the participation of seven eye care hospitals. After assessing the eye care needs of the Dominican Republic, Peru and the region as a whole, both programs are concentrating on the management and treatment of common eye conditions including cataracts, cornea blindness, glaucoma, retinal degeneration, as well as common causes of childhood blindness like retinopathy of prematurity.

The major causes of blindness in the Dominican Republic, Peru and other Latin American and Caribbean countries are non-operated cataract and glaucoma, followed by diabetic retinopathy and uncorrected refractive errors. Many of these causes are avoidable, and with preventive strategies and effective referral systems, the burden of blindness in adults and children can be greatly reduced. The participating institutions are using the visibility of the Flying Eye Hospital to launch several targeted community public health and government advocacy campaigns to raise the awareness of preventable blindness.

ORBIS and FedEx – Delivering Sight Worldwide
As a sponsor of ORBIS for more than 20 years, FedEx has committed its unparalleled networks, dedicated employees and vast aviation expertise to assist ORBIS in delivering the gift of sight to countless individuals throughout the developing world. In 2006, FedEx renewed its global sponsorship of ORBIS with a US$5.5 million commitment, which includes financial, logistical and operational support for ORBIS and its Flying Eye Hospital through 2011. During this time, FedEx has agreed to support ten Flying Eye Hospital programs and has created a new fellowship program — the FedEx Fellows — in which ORBIS will award medical training fellowships at leading eye care institutions to ophthalmologists around the world over the five-year sponsorship. The Dominican Republic and Peru programs will each name a FedEx Fellow. Recently, fellowships have been awarded to doctors in Cambodia, Vietnam and India.

"At FedEx, we believe in training to empower our staff to excel in their jobs. The FedEx Fellows Program is in line with our people-first philosophy and represents an exciting way for our organization to help ORBIS extend the value of its medical programs," said Juan N. Cento, president, FedEx Express Latin America & Caribbean. "By connecting the worlds of business, charity and academia, FedEx can help improve the quality of people’s lives in the Dominican Republic, Peru and neighboring Latin American and Caribbean countries."

Delivering unwavering support, FedEx provides the annual maintenance check for the Flying Eye Hospital. In addition, FedEx pilots volunteer their time to fly the Flying Eye Hospital to medical program locations worldwide. FedEx also gives complimentary access to its powerful network providing transportation services in support of ORBIS initiatives around the world. 

About ORBIS International
ORBIS International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. ORBIS provides the tools, training and technology necessary for local partners to assess their needs and develop workable and lasting solutions to the tragedy of unnecessary blindness. By building their long-term capabilities, ORBIS helps its partner institutions take action to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable. To learn more about ORBIS, please visit orbis.org.

About FedEx
FedEx Corp. provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $39 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 290,000 employees and contractors to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.

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