Countess of Wessex to visit Malawi in Commonwealth Week

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex arrives in Malawi on Commonwealth Day to celebrate historic UK Malawi partnership

LILONGWE, Malawi, March 7, 2017/APO/ –On the occasion of Commonwealth Week, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO, will visit Malawi from 13th to 16th March 2017 to celebrate the strong and historic ties between the UK and Malawi.

As Vice Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Her Royal Highness will visit UK aid funded programmes in Malawi to end avoidable blindness. The Countess will also champion young leaders in Malawi and celebrate their contribution to Malawian society.

During her time in Malawi, Her Royal Highness will travel to the Kasungu district where she will see the activities underway between The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, the Malawian Ministry of Health and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control to eliminate blinding trachoma.

The Countess’ visit comes at an exciting time in Malawi as the country approaches an historic milestone in its fight against blinding trachoma, so no one in Malawi need lose their sight from this ancient, painful infectious disease. Thanks to the UK and Malawi partnership on this health issue, the country is on track to meet by 2018 the World Health Organisation criteria where trachoma is no longer a public health problem, with verification of its elimination by 2020.

The Countess will also visit Lilongwe’s Kamuzu Hospital to see the impact of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium – supported by UK aid – to build long term capacity in Malawi to deliver quality eye care services. Her Royal Highness will meet with Malawian scholars and fellows who are receiving eye health training and carrying out research. She will meet patients being screened for eye diseases including by the new smart-phone based retinal scanning technology, Peek Retina, and how new technology is ensuring people can get their eyes screened in any setting.

The Countess will also undertake two visits to projects run by Malawi’s Queen’s Young Leaders.

Speaking in relation to the visit, the British High Commissioner to Malawi Holly Tett 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.

Background Information

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.

UK and the fight against in Malawi

Trachoma is the world leading infectious cause of blindness and is one of the oldest diseases known to man. In 2014, 8.2 million Malawians were living in trachoma endemic areas and either had or were at risk of getting the disease.

The UK is leading global action to tackle this neglected tropical disease by investing in prevention, treatment and research.

With the support of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative, Malawi has reached an historic milestone – it is on track to meet by 2018 the World Health Organisation criteria where Trachoma is no longer a public health problem, with verification of its elimination by 2020.

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com