ORBIS and Alcon Train China's Next Generation of Sight-Savers



    
    Flying Eye Hospital Program to Train Ophthalmology Residents and
    Biomedical Engineers
    

    NEW YORK, Aug. 25 /CNW/ -- ORBIS International's flagship Flying Eye
Hospital has arrived in Harbin, China with its global team of volunteer eye
care specialists and global Alliance for Sight partner, Alcon, Inc. (NYSE:  
ACL), the world's leading eye care company. Invited by the Heilongjiang
Provincial Government, Heilongjiang Provincial Health Bureau, and the Second
Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, ORBIS is conducting an
intensive two-week program (Aug. 25 - Sep. 5) focusing on training and
equipping the next generation of Chinese eye care professionals and biomedical
engineers. The ORBIS program in Harbin is being sponsored by Alcon.
    At the request of the Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical
University, the Flying Eye Hospital program will only train ophthalmic
residency physicians, marking the first time in the plane's history that it
has been used as a venue for resident training. During the course of the
program, the ORBIS medical team will transfer sight-saving skills to
approximately 40 ophthalmology residents using hands-on surgical training,
live surgical demonstrations, lectures and workshops. The program will
concentrate on the treatment and management of pediatric strabismus, glaucoma
and cataract - China's leading cause of blindness. Residents will also benefit
from clinics on retinal disease and neuro-ophthalmology and from wet lab and
surgical simulator sessions.
    "ORBIS' approach is to tailor each of its programs to the educational
needs of its hosts and the eye care needs of the local people," said Dr.
Hunter Cherwek, medical director, ORBIS International. "This residency-
specific program is an exciting new venture that will allow ORBIS to train the
next generation of sight-saving doctors and help China further grow its pool
of human resources for fighting preventable blindness in the region."
    
    Fulfilling an Urgent Need
    
    It is estimated that half of the medical equipment located throughout the
world does not function properly, and the equipment in China is no exception.
Compounding the problem is that few opportunities exist for biomedical
engineers and technicians to pursue continuing education in ophthalmic
equipment maintenance and repair. Most biomedical engineers must seek training
in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
    To this end, ORBIS and Alcon biomedical engineering staff will conduct a
workshop to provide hands-on training to nine biomedical engineers and
technicians in the management and maintenance of ophthalmic equipment. In the
process, the Alcon biomedical technicians and workshop attendees will work
together to repair many pieces of equipment critical to the delivery of proper
eye care, such as microscopes, slit lamps, indirect ophthalmoscopes, phaco
machines and ultrasound equipment.
    "Having the knowledge and skill to maintain complex ophthalmic equipment
is critical to the delivery of quality eye care, especially in underserved
communities throughout the world," said Michael Goh, general manager, Alcon
China. "Through ORBIS' skills-exchange program and partnerships with medical
facilities worldwide, Alcon is proud to contribute our professional industry
expertise to those on the front lines by helping train local biomedical
engineers and supporting their critical role in the improvement of ophthalmic
care."
    
    Blindness in China
    
    China has a blind population estimated at 5 to 6 million, which accounts
for 18 percent of the world's blind. The major causes of blindness in China
include cataract, childhood eye diseases, cornea diseases, glaucoma and
diabetic retinopathy.
    Of the roughly 24,000 eye doctors in China, 70 to 80 percent of them work
in urban hospitals. Unfortunately, 70 to 80 percent of the country's blind
people live in rural areas. Coupled with resource constraints such as a lack
of equipment, this disparity has resulted in people from remote rural areas
having little or no access to quality eye care services.
    
    ORBIS and Alcon - Leading the Way to a World Without Blindness
    
    For more than 25 years, Alcon has supported ORBIS' sight-saving programs
and initiatives worldwide.  In 2007, Alcon strengthened its commitment to
ORBIS by renewing its global sponsor status for a further two-year period.
This grant, of more than $2.7 million, provides cash and medical gifts-in-
kind. It also increases Alcon's support of training initiatives in developing
countries through a combination of Flying Eye Hospital programs, hospital-
based programs, fellowships and online Cyber-Sight telemedicine consultations.
    Over the years, Alcon has donated state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment,
pharmaceuticals and supplies for the Flying Eye Hospital and its partner
hospitals around the world, making it possible for ORBIS volunteer
ophthalmologists to teach advanced surgical techniques to doctors in the
developing world. Additionally the Alcon Volunteer Biomedical Corps, a
dedicated group of Alcon biomedical technicians, participate in ORBIS training
programs and share their skills with those in developing countries.
    
    About Alcon, Inc.
    
    Alcon, Inc. is the world's leading eye care company, with sales of $5.6
billion in 2007. Alcon, which has been dedicated to the ophthalmic industry
for more than 60 years, researches, develops, manufactures and markets
pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contact lens care solutions
and other vision care products that treat diseases, disorders and other
conditions of the eye. Alcon's majority shareholder is Nestle, S.A., the
world's largest food company
    
    About ORBIS International
    
    ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization
dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS programs have benefited
people in 86 countries, enhancing the skills of more than 195,000 health care
personnel and providing eye care treatment for more than 6.8 million people.
To learn more about ORBIS, please visit www.orbis.org.




For further information:

For further information: Brooke Johnson of ORBIS International,
+1-646-361-0061, Brooke.johnson@orbis.org, or Hetao Yan of ORBIS China,
+86-13608865921, hetao.yan@cn.orbis.org Web Site: http://www.orbis.org

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ORBIS INTERNATIONAL

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ALCON, INC.

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