COVID posed numerous obstacles to our mission of preventing childhood blindness : Dr. Rishi Raj Borah


Orbis goes the virtual way to train patient counsellors from 30 eye hospitals across India


  • Orbis is an NGO working to prevent blindness and visual impairment in children
  • 6 virtual workshops were held across India, training 150 patient counsellors and optometrists

    Mr. Kenneth Youngstein, CEO of Biocom Ltd, among other counselling experts shared his expertise on patient communication

  • Counsellors were trained on key skill sets of patient counselling
  • Cataract, Glaucoma, Pediatric Ophthalmology, Oculoplasty, and Retina were among the key topics covered during training 

New Delhi,

Orbis, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing blindness and treating eye diseases in children, completed six virtual training workshops for patient counsellors and optometrists in 2021, building capacity of counsellors from 30 eye care hospitals across 19 states. The workshops were supported and lead by Mr. Kenneth Youngstein, CEO of Biocom Ltd, Founder of Foundation for Health and Mind Development (FHMD) and Orbis Volunteer Faculty. Each of these workshops was spread over four days, helping counsellors to decode the clinical details of various eye conditions & treatment plans, understand key aspects of counselling, and establish trust and respectful relationship with patients and their families. The training sessions also emphasised on the significance of understanding the patient’s eye disease, concerns, and expectations, as well as their beliefs, which frequently obstruct the treatment. In total, the workshops trained approximately 150 counsellors and optometrists.

Commenting on it, Dr. Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director, Orbis India, says,” COVID posed numerous obstacles to our mission of preventing childhood blindness. Because of the lockdown, most people were unable to get eye exams or visit the hospital for treatment or take preventative measures to protect their vision. As a result, it was critical for optometrists and patient counsellors to adapt to the new realities and educate patients on the urgency of certain eye conditions and precautions taken by the hospitals to address their concerns on COVID spread.  Orbis saw this as an opportunity to provide them with the necessary training to address a variety of issues that patients may be experiencing with their vision. Regardless of the audience’s language, experience, or readiness, the team worked to improve the programme and accommodated and addressed various training challenges. We revised, remodelled, and reworked our content to meet the needs of patient counsellors in various regions.”

“It has been my greatest pleasure to work with Orbis as a volunteer education and training consultant, for the past 10 years.   Among international health organizations, it is rare to find an NGO, like Orbis, that so fully understands and embraces the importance of good communication between professionals, patients, and their families.  I am so impressed that hospital administrators, across India, would grant their staff 10-16 hours to participate in our workshops and that doctors, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and counsellors would often give hours of their time in the evenings and weekends to learn these skills. The enthusiasm of all participants and our expert faculty has touched me deeply.  I believe that this commitment to patient communication, by Orbis and its partners, will spread far beyond eye care into all aspects of healthcare delivery and be a model for other countries”, said Mr. Kenneth.

While earlier these trainings were to be organized in-person, onset of COVID-19 shifted the trainings to virtual mode, which in turn increased the number of counsellors Orbis could train through the virtual sessions. The trainings involved 18 counselling and clinical experts from across the country to talk on clinical and counselling aspect of Cataract (clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye), Glaucoma (damage to the eye nerves), Pediatric Ophthalmology, Oculoplasty, and Retina related eye conditions. The counsellors were also trained on using an illustrated information/ education tool, “The Eye Book”, which can be used by the counsellors in their discussions about eye diseases and treatment plans with patients and families.  The Eye Book, developed by FHMD and Orbis is being shared with the 30 Orbis partner hospitals across India in eight Indian languages.


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