UK Queen’s envoy to visit Malawi in Commonwealth week: The Countess of Wessex

On the occasion of Commonwealth Week, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO, as Vice Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, will next week visit Malawi to see the Trust’s work to end avoidable blindness and champion young leaders.

Countess_in cream dress being briefed on eye technology at an earlier function in UK

During her time in Malawi, the Royal envoy will travel to Kasungu district where she will see the activities that are underway and are part of the Trust’s initiative with the Malawi Ministry of Health, and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control that work to eliminate blinding trachoma.

The Royal visit comes at an important time in Malawi as it reaches an historic milestone in its fight against blinding trachoma; from now on no one in Malawi need lose their sight from this ancient, painful infectious eye disease.

Malawi is on track to meet by 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) criteria where trachoma is no longer a public health problem and verification of elimination by 2020.

The Royal victor will also visit Lilongwe’s Kamuzu Hospital to see the impact of the Trust-supported Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium that aims to build long-term capacity in Malawi to deliver quality eye care services.

While there, she will meet Malawian scholars and fellows who are receiving eye health training and carrying out research under the Consortium, and patients being screened for eye diseases, including by the new smart-phone based retinal scanning technology, Peek Retina. She will furthermore, see first-hand that pioneering new technologies ensure that Malawians get their eyes screened in any setting, while she visits a Lilongwe Primary School to see pupils having their eyes screened by a smartphone.

The Queen’s envoy will also undertake two visits in Lilongwe to view projects run by two of Malawi’s three of the Queen’s Young Leaders.  She will first meet young women being supported by the ‘Girls Arise for Change’ initiative – a project that was set up by 2017 winner Virginia Khunguni and which teaches work place skills to young women affected by violence and lack of education.

Speaking in relation to the visit, the British High Commissioner to Malawi Holly said: “We are delighted to have Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex arriving in Malawi on Commonwealth Day to witness how two Commonwealth partners are working together to tackle global issues including fighting diseases like Trachoma. Malawi is on track to eliminate the disease by 2020 which is an incredible achievement and one that we should be proud of.”

The Royal visitor will also see the ‘Loud Ink’ project, which 2016 winner Madalo Banda established to provide young writers with a platform to engage in social issues through stories.

The Countess of Wessex

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones, is the wife of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II. She is the Vice-Patron of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is a charitable foundation established in 2012 to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s sixty-year contribution to the Commonwealth. Its mission is to enrich the lives of people from all backgrounds within the Commonwealth by working with partners towards eliminating avoidable blindness and empowering a new generation of young leaders. Fifty percent of funding for the Trust is from UK Aid.


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