The world's only Flying Eye Hospital landed at Taipei's Sungshan Airport yesterday to raise funds for Orbis International, a nonprofit organization that strives to eliminate avoidable blindness and restore sight in the developing world.
Vice Premier Wu Rong-i said back in the days when Taiwan's economy and medical technology were just taking off, the country relied heavily on the assistance of health organizations such as the World Health Organization or the American Red Cross Association. Now that Taiwan had made significant medical advancements, it is time to give back to the world some of what it received 60 years ago, Wu added.
According to Orbis Taiwan representative Chen Jing-ding, one new case of childhood blindness is recorded each minute in the world. With early intervention and proper treatment, 75 percent of these children can have their eyesight restored, Chen said.
Gordon Douglas, medical director of the FEH, lauded Taiwan's medical environment and explained that the mission of Orbis is to provide free continuing education opportunities for doctors, nurses, and technicians so that they can better serve their communities.
To show their support for the cause, students from Taipei School for the Visually Impaired collected change and donated their savings to Orbis. School principal Lin Li-hui said the event will give a boost of confidence to visually impaired persons on the island.
To better serve the visually impaired community in Taiwan, volunteer doctors from Orbis will provide free eye exams at local elementary and junior high schools, starting next year.
Taiwanese ophthalmologist Ho Ye-tau, who has volunteered for two Orbis missions to China and performed over 30 surgeries onboard the FHE in the past two years, said his missions in Taiwan were not linked to any political agendas.
To date, more than a million people have received direct medical treatment and more than 93,000 healthcare professionals in over 80 countries have honed their skills through Orbis programs. It is now estimated that as many as 22.5 million children and adults have benefited from Orbis programs worldwide.