This year, under travel restrictions, local virtual consultations with ophthalmologists in regional hospitals were more critical than ever. And we found new ways to treat hard-to-reach patients too – like Rohingya refugee Shahed, whose innovative follow-up cataract treatment you can read about here.
Meanwhile, our unique Flying Eye Hospital teaching facility went fully virtual, connecting eye health experts with trainee doctors, nurses and health workers around the world. In total, we delivered 14,000 training sessions – nearly double our forecast at the beginning of the year. Just as importantly, as you’ll read on here, trained Orbis professionals showed the sort of courage and commitment we’re familiar with in our own NHS to deliver COVID-secure eye care on the ground.
Many of our projects were affected by hospitals suspending services and reallocating staff for COVID-19 patients. However, by capitalising on non-lockdown periods and working with local governments to find COVID-secure ways to sustain eye care services, we still managed to have a considerable impact. We provided 4.3 million doses of antibiotics to fight blinding trachoma in Ethiopia and supported 346,000 eye screenings and 41,000 treatments and surgeries around the world.
We also concluded the first phase of our Qatar Creating Vision project in South Asia in 2020. Supported by the Qatar Fund for Development, it has provided 6.7 million screenings and treatments and more than 82,000 training sessions over four years. Across all our projects this year, we screened a total of nearly 290,000 children. One of them was Sneha, from the Parsa district of Nepal. Her story here shows just how vital glasses prescriptions are for young people’s futures – wherever they live.
Sadly, we weren’t able to deliver all our project activities, which, of course, has affected how much programme work we’ve been able to raise funds for. But we started from a robust financial base, and our supporters have responded with astonishing steadfastness, loyalty and flexibility. At £4.89 million, our UK voluntary income actually exceeded our target by 24% – driven by phenomenal responses to two appeals for Ethiopia and Bangladesh.
We’re proud that our financial stability in an uncertain world has helped save the sight of people already facing enormous challenges in the pandemic. But, as treatment backlogs continue to mount and so many lives remain precarious, we have more work than ever still to do. We’ve been humbled and inspired by you, our supporters, as we’ve weathered this storm. It’s thanks to you, therefore, that we look forward with shared hope, humility and determination to 2021.
Rebecca Cronin (Chief Executive)
Rob Pinchbeck (Chairman)
“On behalf of our trustees, supporters and everyone we work with, I would like to thank the Orbis UK team, who overcame all the obstacles the world threw at us in an extremely challenging year and just kept going. We are all hugely grateful for their unswerving dedication and hard work.”
Rob Pinchbeck, Chairman---------------