Sophie, Countess of Wessex, will arrive in Doha today as part of an international campaign to raise awareness about the prevention and treatment of blindness, which affects some 1.5mn children around the world.
She will be accompanied by the renowned Orbis Flying Eye Hospital - the world’s only eye hospital housed within a DC-10 airplane - which returns to Doha International Airport.
The Countess, who is a long-standing patron of global initiatives to prevent and treat blindness among underprivileged communities around the world, will lead a series of events and meetings in Qatar to further build on the strong partnerships and alliances that were forged last year when Orbis made its inaugural visit to Qatar.
The Countess will participate in a series of tours for local organisations in Qatar to visit the aircraft and experience its sophisticated facilities, which include a fully-equipped ophthalmic operating suite, a four bed pre-operation and recovery room, as well as a sub-sterile and laser room.
The Countess’s visit to Doha in conjunction with Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is part of the organisation’s goodwill tour to build on the crucial support that enables it to expand its sight-saving efforts throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Close to 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries.
“DIA is truly honoured to welcome the Countess of Wessex to Doha and support the important global cause of preventing avoidable child blindness. We also look forward to once again hosting Orbis on our airport grounds and providing the community in Qatar with the opportunity to witness the incredible work that the organisation is doing to train eyecare experts and extend sight-saving care to millions of communities around the world through its Flying Eye Hospital,” Qatar Airways and DIA chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said.
The Orbis crew of medical professionals will be on hand to answer questions about the unique aircraft and the way in which it empowers eyecare teams in developing countries to treat their own communities.
Orbis prevents and treats blindness through hands-on teaching and training, public health education, improved access to treatment and quality eyecare, and partnerships with local healthcare organisations in an effort to eliminate avoidable blindness.
Since 1982, Orbis has conducted training programmes in 92 countries, including those visited by the Flying Eye Hospital.
In 2012, Orbis and its partners provided some 4.5mn treatments, more than 55,545 surgeries and trained more than 20,830 doctors, nurses and others.

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