Flying eye hospital to land in Kolkata



The world's only flying eye hospital - an international team of doctors aboard a modified aircraft - will land in the city Sep 9 to impart training to ophthalmologists here and perform advanced surgeries onboard.

The mobile hospital would stay in the city for a fortnight.

A venture of US-based NGO Orbis, the hospital has serviced 90 countries since its inception in 1982 and continues to bring in dedicated global volunteer training faculties in its fight against preventable blindness.

"In India, Orbis has focused on childhood blindness. We have had a full time presence on ground since 2000. To support that initiative, the flying hospital will arrive in Kolkata Sep 9," Rahul Ali, Orbis country director, told IANS.

Besides India, Orbis operates in Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and Latin America and Caribbean.

Experts from the US, Britain and India comprise the team that will train not only ophthalmologists, but also offer valuable insights to support staff such as nurses, biomedical engineers, anaesthesiologists and paramedics.

"We need to train the supporting staff as well besides the core group, as it's a comprehensive work," said Ali.

Previously, the Orbis flying eye hospital had flown into this city in 2005.

Scheduled for a fortnight stint in the city, the training and surgery programme will be spaced out in two weeks in liaison with four host institutes - Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Susrut Eye foundation, Disha Eye Hospital and Sankara Nethralaya.

The two-way audio-visual training module ensures that trainees can observe and enquire about the procedures being done onboard from classrooms while the experts can tackle their questions as they are wired up. Some operations will be done onboard while some in two of the local institutes.

"It takes longer to perform the surgeries as the experts answer the questions posed by trainees. In two weeks, we will perform about 60-odd surgeries. Additional 20 have been selected for laser procedures. Different components of the training will take place at different host institutes," said Ali.

In order to zero-in on the candidates, host institutes had pre-selected patients and uploaded details on the web telemedicine portal Cyber-Sight. - IANS

"We are one of the facilitators. For two weeks. trainees will get a good opportunity to watch and learn," said Debasish Bhattacharya, chairman, Disha Eye Hospitals.