The Countess of Wessex is passionate about eradicating avoidable blindness. As Patron of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Her Royal Highness has seen first-hand the difference organisations with the right knowledge, experience and funding can make on a global scale.
In 2013, The Countess's role took her to the Orbis 'flying eye hospital' programme in India and Qatar where she saw first-hand the many global issues around preventable blindness.
Following The Countess's visit to India and Qatar Her Royal Highness wrote an article for The Telegraph to coincide with World Sight Day. You can see it here:
Read more from Orbis UK on The Countess of Wessex's contribution to their Qatar Creating Vision initiative.
The Countess of Wessex (in her role as Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) visited Qatar in September 2013 to highlight global issues around preventable childhood blindness and the need for funding for eye health programmes.
The Countess of Wessex's knowledge, passion and vision for a world where no-one is needlessly blind encouraged the conversation between representatives of the State of Qatar and international NGO members of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. These conversations resulted in the Qatar Creating Vision initiative.
On World Sight Day 2015, during Her Royal Highness's follow-up visit to Qatar, the Qatar Development Fund (QDF) pledged an investment of $8,000,000 to the Qatar Creating Vision initiative. Additionally, during the four-day Royal visit, The Countess of Wessex’s passion for the cause echoed across the region with a press coverage that generated an incredible number of 220,702,298 opportunities to view online and offline articles focusing on the prevention of blindness.
On 26 November 2015, Orbis UK and QDF signed the framework agreement of the initiative at the Embassy of the State of Qatar in London, UK. The signing was celebrated on the same day at Buckingham Palace with The Countess of Wessex and Qatar Foreign Minister, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulraham bin Jassim Al Thani.
Over the next 4 years, The Qatar Creating Vision initiative will deliver over 5.5 million eye screenings and treatments for children, focusing first on India and Bangladesh.
The initiative aims to reduce Childhood Blindness in India and Bangladesh through:
- Expanding high quality paediatric surgical and medical services, including refractive error services, in 8 hospital partners in Bangladesh and 11 hospital partners in India.
- Delivering Retinopathy of Prematurity services in 1 new hospital partner in Bangladesh.
- Establishing new programmes with INGOs Sightsavers & BRAC to screen school children in India and Bangladesh respectively.
- Developing research and advocacy initiatives that will improve children’s eye care in India and Bangladesh.
- Showcase preferred practices in paediatric eye-care in India, Bangladesh and Nepal and also in trachoma elimination programmes amongst affected countries in the Middle East region.
Qatar Creative Vision is also a platform for Qatar Businesses, local organisations as well as Qatari male and female volunteers and Qatari doctors to join the fight in preventing blindness.