Hue, Vietnam (21 August 2019) - Vietjet Aviation Joint Stock Company (VietJet) and Orbis Singapore (Orbis) commit to join forces to implement an eye care program for blindness across Vietnam, contributing to the pursuance of Vietnam’s Sustainable Development Goals for people’s health and well-being.

"Bright eyes for Vietnamese people", with the "no one is left behind" motto, is an initiative of Orbis and Vietjet to help Vietnam reduce the blindness prevalence due to preventable causes. The US$ 1 million program will be implemented over a period of 3 years to address the current biggest challenges in blindness prevention in Vietnam. With an increasing population, population aging, people's lifestyle changes including diets in the context of Vietnam's transition from a developing country to a middle-income country, which all have contributed to increasing risks of visual impairment and blindness in Vietnam. Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) have become common eye diseases in Vietnam, and have been the main cause leading to blindness in children and those in working-age groups.

Mr. Norman C.T. Liu, Orbis Singapore’s Board Member said: “VietJet’s grant will each year literally enables thousands more screenings and treatments to be done in Vietnam to mitigate premature infant and diabetic retinopathy. It’s the cause of 30% of child blindness and it’s the leading cause of blindness over age 35.”

Currently, Vietnam is estimated to have 23,000 children blind in both eyes, of whom about one-third are caused by premature retinopathy. Estimatedly, each year about 25,000 premature infants at risk of ROP need to be examined and about 3,000 premature newborns with complications are in need of treatment for their eye sight protection. In 3 years, the program will support to establish ROP Centers in the provinces of Dak Lak and Thanh Hoa, which help screen and detect early for timely treatment of premature and low birth weight infants at risk of blindness due to ROP in the Central Region and Central Highlands. The project will also support the Children's Hospital No.1 in Ho Chi Minh City to standardize its training programs on ROP examination and treatment.

The program is also designed to help establish a DR screening in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Binh Dinh Province. With an estimated 4 to 5 million people living with diabetes (accounting for nearly 6% of the total population), Vietnam is as among the countries with the fastest increasing rate of diabetes in the world. Accordingly, nearly 1.5 million are prognosticated to have diabetic retinopathy and about half a million are likely to be blind if not detected early and promptly treated. Under the program, diabetic patients in target provinces and cities will be screened for DR so that timely treatment can be performed to help protect their eye sight.

The past 20 years have shown that Orbis has been a trusted partner of Vietnam ophthalmology and is the only organization that’s has supported Vietnam in the examination and treatment of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). Since 2017, Orbis has implemented capacity building projects for the health system in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Binh Dinh and Can Tho with support for ROP screening and treatment. In regard to the DR management, Orbis has supported Vietnam for the first time to establish 5 DR screening units at general hospitals in Tien Giang province and in Ho Chi Minh City since 2017.

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