Yesterday, 29th April, The Countess of Wessex has started her visit to India as Vice Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. It is HRH’s final overseas tour as Vice-Patron ahead of the Trust’s planned closure in January 2020.
During her visit, The Countess will see how the work of the charitable foundation has supported to tackle avoidable blindness in babies born prematurely and hear about the impact of programmes successfully launched by Queen’s Young Leaders.
Her Royal Highness is visiting Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi from Monday 29th April to Friday 3rd May. Yesterday in the morning HRH arrived at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad. Mr Alexander Stonor is in attendance.
Upon the arrival, HRH was received by Mr Andrew Fleming (British Deputy High Commissioner to the Republic of India). The Countess later attended a Reception at the Taj Krishna Hotel in Hyderabad.
On her first day, The Countess of Wessex visited two hospitals across Hyderabad to see first-hand the work the Trust has helped to establish to prevent premature babies from losing their sight.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a major cause of childhood blindness affecting thousands of preterm babies born in India – home to the highest number of preterm births in the world.
First, HRH visited Gandhi Medical College and Hospital to see the Special Newborn Care Unit. Gandhi Medical College, originally named People’s Medical College, was founded on 14 September 1954.
At Gandhi The Countess watched the ROP screening programme in action. Premature babies are often given oxygen in the incubator to survive, but too much oxygen is highly toxic and can lead to total and irreversible sight loss.
At the Special Unit, The Countess saw babies being carefully monitored to prevent ROP. HRH met with ophthalmologists, paediatricians and nurses who have all been trained under the Trust’s programme to provide the high level of care required to prevent blindness occurring in these early and most fragile days of life.
Screening for retinopathy of prematurity should continue every 1-2 weeks until the risk has passed or the baby receives urgent treatment. The Countess visited mothers & their babies who are being carefully monitored by health professionals at Gandhi Medical College & Hospital.
In the afternoon The Countess visited LV Prasad Eye Institute – a Centre of Excellence in the prevention of blindness. The Institute was established in 1987 as a not-for-profit, non-government eye care institution.
The mission of LVPEI is to provide “equitable and efficient eye care to all sections of society.” There Sophie re-met with Dr Jalali, Dr who to date has saved the sight of over 20,000 babies, & spoke about the improvements that have come about to save the sight of thousands of preterm babies across India.
Dr Subhadra Jalali is a world leader in ROP who has been instrumental in the delivery of the Trust’s programme She is training teams across the country and internationally.
Speaking to trainees at the hospital, The Countess said:
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Jalali a few weeks ago in London. To come here and see for myself what you are doing, is fantastic… you are creating a lasting legacy. The Trust has always wanted a legacy that will last on into the future and this is what you are doing. It is going to have a huge impact on the lives of thousands of children long into the future.
From Maharashtra in the west down to Tamil Nadu in the south, LVPEI are training ophthalmologists, nurses and health staff across India to detect and treat ROP. That’s why HRH joined a video conference with staff from some of those regional hospitals to hear about their experiences.
The Countess also interacted with the Paediatric and the ROP team of LVPEI and discussed the way forward. Later Sophie attended a Lunch with staff and government officials at LV Prasad Eye Institute.
In the evening The Countess of Wessex attended a Reception at the Residence of the British Deputy High Commissioner to the Republic of India.
When last year Andrew Fleming was in Karimnagar, he promised India’s first cadre of trainee midwives a reception when they graduated. He wrote via Twitter: “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine HRH The Countess of Wessex, in Hyderabad as Vice Patron of @qejubileetrust, would be Chief Guest. Thanks ma’am 🙏🏻.”
That’s why The Countess met the group of nurses, now trained specifically to deliver exceptional maternity care to women and newborns, at a reception hosted by Andrew Fleming.
The professional midwifery “Promise” programme has been created by The Fernandez Hospital’s Educational and Research Foundation, in partnership with the Government of Telangana (India) and UNICEF-Hyderabad (India).
Usually babies in India are delivered by trained nurses who perform a midwifery function. This group of women are the first dedicated professionally qualified midwives. It is a significant step in improving antenatal and maternity care.
Following on from the success of the programme, Fernandez Hospital Foundation is looking to expand the programme and India’s Central Government and the World Health Organisations are now looking to develop this model of care all across India.
On her first day of visit to India, Sophie sent a personal message via Twitter: “I was so thrilled to see the work supported by @qejubileetrust in action today screening & saving premature babies’ sight from Retinopathy of Prematurity. Congratulations to @MoHFW_INDIA, @thePHFI & the Trust for creating this remarkable legacy for the people of India. – Sophie.”
For Royal Family coverage, click here. Diamond Jubilee Trust’s coverage is here. Lovely article about Sophie’s visit can be found here. Coverage by Daily Mail is here. Also great to see Tim Rooke with Sophie in India.
Outfit & jewellery:
New red blouse, I believe custom design by Aross Girl.
New trousers, cannot find those.
Tiffany ‘citrine’ earrings.
Citrine pendant by Heavenly Necklaces.
Skagen Nicoline watch.
Clutch bag by Sophie Habsburg.
New, Penelope Chilvers Jackie Leather Sandals.
Brooke Dress in Apple Green with Pale Blue Belt, by Aross Girl.
Earrings seen before, no ID.
Citrine necklace by Heavenly Necklaces.
Tiffany T bracelet.
Skagen Nicoline watch
Clutch by Sophie Habsburg in Lunatic style.
New, Tango suede shoe in TAN/ULTRAVIOLET by Penelope Chilvers.