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American Friends of Jamaica sending its first sight-saving mission medical mission to Jamaica

The American Friends of ( AFJ) Executive Director Caron Chung
The American Friends of ( AFJ) Executive Director Caron Chung

by Derrick Scott

Washington, DC  – The American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) announced its inaugural sponsorship of a sight-saving mission medical mission to Jamaica the week of February 9, 2020 – a surgical mission and teaching program focused on retina diseases.

To execute this mission, AFJ is joining forces with Dr. Norman Saffra, Chairman of Ophthalmology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn NY, and Dr. Lizette Mowatt, Head of Ophthalmology Division of the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

Two nurses and an anesthesiologist will also be included to support this program, thanks to an AFJ collaboration with Orbis International, a New York City-based global blindness prevention organization with a strong partnership with the Jamaican ophthalmic community.

A focus of the upcoming AFJ mission is to reduce the backlog of patients requiring surgery. Another important component of the mission is capacity building for residents at UHWI and Kingston Public Hospital.

About 16 patients will be scheduled for surgery and 12 residents will observe during the procedures, the aim being not only to operate on those in need but to upskill medical residents to be able to improve eye care and learn techniques used to perform complicated surgeries.

Dr. Saffra shared his motivation on what drove his involvement in the mission: “Jewish tradition dictates that we  participate in tikun olam – making the world a better place. What better way to do that, than by helping  to restore vision  to people who may not have access to the latest sight saving technologies!” He added that “partnering with the AFJ and Orbis in this important mission to Kingston and UWI was a natural fit, and allows me to follow in this tradition.”

Alcon, the global leader in eye care, has provided the necessary technology and consumables to support this sight-saving mission.

“Through effective partnerships, the AFJ is able to impact more people and breakdown obstacles that prevent our most vulnerable from receiving the care they need. With healthy sight, families and communities thrive,” stated AFJ Executive Director Caron Chung.

Support for this mission has been provided by Orbis International, UHWI, JetBlue, Dennis Shipping, Alcon, Spanish Court Hotel, and the local Ministry of Health in Jamaica.

The AFJ boasts more 37 years of funding charitable organizations in Jamaica – in education, healthcare and economic development.  A registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit, AFJ relies on individual and corporate contributions made by donors who believe in its work and will advocate on its behalf. Part of AFJ’s mission is to facilitate donor-directed contributions to enable donors to support registered charitable organizations in Jamaica.

Orbis International is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Its focus on blindness prevention and treatment of blinding eye diseases in developing countries through hands-on training,  public health education, advocacy and local partnerships.

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