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  • Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award

    2021 Outstanding Humanitarian Service Awardee: Hunter Cherwek, MD

    Awards Committee

    This award recognizes Dr. Cherwek for dedicating his life to developing programs for global blindness prevention and caring for those most in need. The impact he has made on the burden of blindness has made a difference in the lives of generations of patients and eye care providers.

    Dr. Cherwek was nominated by Daniel Neely, MD, for his countless number of global initiatives with Orbis International and Alcon to work on their global surgical programs in Asia. 

    Dr. Cherwek went to Duke University and completed his residency at Emory University School of Medicine. Upon finishing his ophthalmology residency at Emory, Dr. Cherwek immediately started a position with Orbis International as a staff ophthalmologist to medical director and, more recently, as the vice president for clinical services. He has worked on every level of program development, from clinical care, working with the ministry of health and dealing with every back-end issue needed to developing new programs. 

    Dr. Cherwek is a true believer in skills transfer to build a sustainable model of surgical care delivery. He is the force behind the scenes that makes everything work seamlessly for the other physicians, staff, the entire eye care team and patients. Over the course of his entire career, and until today, Dr. Cherwek continually distinguishes himself by working tirelessly to bring quality eye care services to the people across Ghana, Nigeria, Myanmar, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and other countries around the world.

    While at Alcon, Dr. Cherwek led strategic initiatives that created unique postgraduate cataract training and development programs specially designed for practicing ophthalmologists within China, India, Bangladesh and Russia. These programs provided ophthalmologists and their staff opportunities to organically develop quality cataract patient care services in underserved communities across these nations. Dr. Cherwek was responsible for forming long-term partnerships with notable institutions that enabled the training programs to be standardized and build scale. Over the past 10 years, these programs have been responsible for developing well over 3,500 surgeons who have provided care for more than 2.5 million patients.

    Dr. Cherwek has remained active with Orbis and numerous professional ophthalmology organizations, holding formal and informal leadership positions, managing a challenging international schedule with his hallmark determination, positive energy and willingness to help. His humanitarian efforts are unparalleled, and he is truly one of the unsung heroes in global ophthalmology.