Best International Ambassador Finalist: FedEx

FedEx: Eliminating Avoidable Blindness

You wouldn’t think aviation, social responsibility and healthcare, would necessarily go together. But FedEx proves, through their work with ORBIS, that thinking strategically when it comes to collaborations can yield huge results.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39 million people in the world are estimated to be blind, and about 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries. Furthermore, the World Health Organization estimates that 80% of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured with proper access to medicine.

ORBIS International was established to address these disturbing statistics. In 1982, its unique aircraft, the Flying Eye Hospital, took flight. For the first time, a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art teaching hospital was installed inside an airplane. It was now possible to bring sight-saving skills to the developing world.

Together, FedEx and ORBIS are working to eliminate avoidable blindness in the developing world while raising awareness of the impact of blindness among the public here in North America.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of FedEx and ORBIS’s collaboration. The company has committed its unparalleled networks, dedicated employees, and vast aviation expertise to assist ORBIS in delivering the gift of sight to countless individuals throughout the developing world.

In 2011, as part of the Delivering Sight Worldwide global sponsorship of ORBIS, FedEx pledged USD$5.5 million over five years to support the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital  and extend the FedEx Fellows Program—an opportunity for local, talented doctors to receive the continuing medical education needed to address leading causes of avoidable blindness within their country and region.

What FedEx has Accomplished

Through the Delivering Sight Worldwide program, FedEx has delivered the following:

  • Sponsored three Flying Eye Hospital programs in Trujillo, Peru; DaNang, Vietnam; and Iloilo, Philippines that trained about 130 doctors and 620 other medical professionals, including nurses and biomedical technicians. Furthermore, about 290 free sight-saving surgeries were performed during these programs and many hundreds more will benefit from the training local medical teams received.
  • Awards and sponsors a fellowship for one promising ophthalmologist from each FedEx-sponsored Flying Eye Hospital Program to study at some of the world’s leading eye institutes. This initiative—The FedEx Fellowship—began in 2006 and has since awarded fellowships to ophthalmologists from more around the world, including Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, India, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
  • A new Flying Eye Hospital, the world’s only airplane with a fully functioning state-of-the-art eye hospital on board, will be built on an MD-10-30 freighter aircraft donated by FedEx and will utilize a modular design concept. It is the first time such modular units have been designed for an aircraft.
  • Over the past year, from July 2011 to March 2012, ORBIS has trained about 9,810 medical professionals, including the 750 trained through FedEx- sponsored Flying Eye Hospital Programs.
  • ORBIS and partners provided  1.7million  vision  screenings  across all programs, and performed  more than 70,000  sight-saving surgeries both onboard the Flying Eye Hospital and at local partner hospitals. This includes the 290 surgeries performed during FedEx-sponsored Flying Eye Hospital programs.

Why This Project Makes Sense

Much of ORBIS’s success would not be possible without the support and dedication of FedEx and its team members -- including the pilots who volunteer to fly the Flying Eye Hospital, technicians who keep the plane flying, and local team members who volunteer as translators in country. FedEx also provides complimentary access to its global transportation network enabling ORBIS to send sight-saving medicines and equipment to hospital-based programs around the world.

FedEx support for ORBIS allows the company to donate its expertise, services and capital in a creative and meaningful way. Making the relationship a priority – staying in close touch – creates a strong camaraderie between the two organizations promoting openness and transparency and a can-do spirit that encourages creativity and innovation in programming as they continually look at new ways to grow the collaboration.


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