Posted on December 06, 2017

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has announced ‘eye health’ as the first of nine research topics that will be the focus of next year’s global summit. A report outlining the findings of the research will be published and presented during a panel discussion at WISH 2018, to be held at the Qatar National Convention Centre from November 13-14, 2018.

The announcement of ‘eye health’ as a research topic was made during a visit by Her Royal Highness Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, to Sidra Medicine recently. As Global Ambassador of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Her Royal Highness recently visited Bangladesh to view the work of Orbis, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that operates the world’s only accredited Flying Eye Hospital. The charity runs programs that focus on the prevention of blindness and the treatment of blinding eye diseases in developing countries, through hands-on training, public health education, advocacy, and partnerships.

The British Royal was given a tour of the eye health facilities at Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medicine by Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, State of Qatar. During her visit to Sidra Medicine, Her Royal Highness and Her Excellency met with Sultana Afdhal, Acting CEO of WISH, to discuss the focus on eye health in next year’s summit.

Dr. Robert Walters, Orbis Trustee, who accompanied Her Royal Highness on her visit to Qatar, commented: “We are delighted that the World Innovation Summit for Health will be making eye health research a priority in the lead up to WISH 2018. As an ophthalmologist, I know the devastating impact a lack of access to eye care can have on people and their families. We were honored to welcome Her Royal Highness to Bangladesh to witness our work, and then to Qatar to feedback on programs that are being supported here. Orbis is about partnership and innovation - establishing new and improved ways to train people across the world to tackle avoidable blindness, whether through our Flying Eye Hospital, long-term programs, or online mentoring platform Cybersight.” 

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In his capacity as an Orbis trustee, Dr. Walters has volunteered to train ophthalmologists across a number of developing countries including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Vietnam. He will participate in the WISH 2018 eye health research forum, which will be chaired by Professor Sir Peng T. Khaw, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, who specializes in glaucoma and is one of the most highly experienced specialists in the UK. “Vision is ranked by the public as our most precious sense. The incidence of blinding disease is rising worldwide associated with aging populations. Research and the development of better diagnostics, therapies, and delivery pathways will be featured in the WISH 2018 Summit. This offers the prospect of improving the burden of these diseases on those affected by them,” said Professor Khaw.

WISH 2018 will gather the world’s healthcare leaders in Doha to highlight and address some of the world’s most pressing healthcare challenges. Groups of experts from around the world will work together to build evidence-based research on nine topics in the months leading up to the summit and will present their findings in reports that will be published in time for the event. These reports will be explored in depth during panel discussions at WISH 2018. The topics will be announced over the coming months and will focus on a range of medical, social, humanitarian, and policy-driven areas.

WISH 2018, an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, will also feature an increased array of community-based events across Qatar and will present examples of healthcare innovation in action within ‘The WISH Hub’ – an interactive space that will showcase novel healthcare products, host informal discussions, and provide hands-on experience of technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.