COVID-19: A message to our Orbis family

March 2020

Throughout this period of uncertainty, the messages and compassion we’ve received from members of the Orbis family has been an incredible source of encouragement. We’d like to thank you, our incredible supporters, and wish you and your family well during these tough times. Below is an update on our response to the current public health situation.

As you may have heard, the Flying Eye Hospital has been grounded until the end of June. As the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, partners, and people we train and help are our #1 priority - we believe this is the right thing to do.

The Flying Eye Hospital may be temporarily grounded, but our mission is not. Through Cybersight, Orbis’s award-winning telemedicine platform, we continue our work to prevent and treat blindness in a safe, socially responsible way. We are investigating ways to expand our Cybersight activity as we expect a spike in the demand for remote learning and tele-consultation services.

Our in-country programs will operate within the limits of local COVID-19 restrictions, which vary by country and region. As always, we are working closely with our partners and local leaders to continually re-evaluate operations as the situation evolves.

We have temporarily closed our London office, and staff are continuing to work hard to further our mission remotely.

Finally, as a global eye health organisation we wish to stress the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation in preventing the spread of disease. These topics are routinely integrated into our training programs for local eye health teams, and community education on hygiene has been critical to our success in fighting blinding trachoma in Ethiopia. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we encourage everyone to heed the advice of our partners at the World Health Organisation and take basic protective measures against the virus.

Orbis stands in solidarity with our global health colleagues around the world. We applaud the frontline health workers who are operating around the clock.

We appreciate your priorities may lie elsewhere at the moment. However in these trying times, every penny we have access to will help us continue fighting blindness, and make sure that we're in a strong position to ramp-up our programmes again when the circumstances allow. As the world is facing a huge challenge to the health of families in all parts of the globe, we wanted to thank you, our incredible supporters. We’re thinking of you all, and wish you and your family well during these tough times.

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