Today (27th March), HRH The Countess of Wessex as Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust attended a meeting of over 170 eye health experts from 27 Commonwealth countries as they are aiming to expand and develop eye health services across the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium was established in 2015 by the Trust in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to bring quality eye care to all those who need it. The Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium is a network working across the Commonwealth to develop national programmes to tackle major causes of avoidable blindness.
Now in its fifth year of operation, and for the first time in its history, over 170 people involved in the Consortium have come together in London to share their knowledge and experiences and look at how together they can expand their work and create a world which is free from avoidable blindness and poor vision.
The Countess first saw the Consortium’s work in action when she visited the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on the occasion of her fiftieth birthday in January 2015, in what was her first engagement as Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Trust.
The Countess of Wessex is passionate about eradicating avoidable blindness and has seen first-hand the difference organisations with the right knowledge, experience and funding can make on a global scale. As Patron of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, HRH has carried out visits to countries such as Bangladesh to see first-hand the impact of avoidable blindness around the world.
At today’s meeting, The Countess spoke with leading ophthalmologists and health professionals and heard about how their work is changing the way eye care is delivered in some of the most under-resourced areas of the Commonwealth. Dr Daksha Patel works at LSHTM and Dr Shalinda Sabherwal is attending The Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium from India.
Nigerian ophthalmologist Dr Chimdi Chuka-Okosoa talked to The Countess about current training opportunities for ophthalmologists from East and West Africa and the moves to develop specialist training centres across the region.
Peek Vision CEO, Dr Andrew Bastawrous, said to The Countess:
Our dream all along was to help people like Dr Rono serve his community. It was just a PowerPoint presentation to begin with. Now, Botswana is the first country in the world to commit to screening every school child using Peek.
The Countess also met Aubrey Mankaka Banda – Eye Programme Manager from Malawi. HRH visited Malawi in 2017, as Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and this year wrote an open letter to the people of Malawi to congratulate them on their work to prevent avoidable blindness. There is a post on my blog about that message.
As part of the visit, The Countess also witnessed how eye health professionals supported by the Consortium are gaining access to vital new skills. Her Royal Highness has tried out specialist surgical training equipment to simulate eye surgery which is being used to train eye doctors from all over the Commonwealth. Worldwide 253 million people are blind or visually impaired, yet 80% of these cases could have been avoided.
Tomorrow, The Countess will host a reception at St. James’s Palace for participants of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, High Commissioners, policy makers and eye health experts to celebrate the achievements of global eye health leaders in their efforts to bring vision to everyone, everywhere.
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust works across the Commonwealth to end avoidable blindness and empower young leaders. It was established in 2012 to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s sixty-year contribution to the Commonwealth.
Today’s detailed coverage courtesy of Royal Family Twitter, here‘s the post on the official website. The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust shared a press release and details about the event via Twitter – thank you.
Outfit seen before.