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The Countess of Wessex visits Botswana and Malawi



The Countess of Wessex, as Global Ambassador for the IAPB, visited Botswana and Malawi this week.

On Thursday 13th October, Her Royal Highness will celebrate World Sight Day in Malawi.

During her time in Malawi and Botswana, The Countess will see first-hand the lasting impact and legacy of the work undertaken by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (QEDJT). The Trust was launched in 2012 with an aim to end avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth and beyond. The Countess served as Vice Patron.

Monday 10th October

At a local primary school in Botswana, The Countess of Wessex learnt about the nationwide programme, Pono Yame, which means “My Vision”.

The programme offer all school-going children in Botswana eye health screening, assessment and treatments, from glasses to surgeries. It is the first government-led programme of its kind in Africa, and is based on technology from Peek Vision, a digital diagnostic tool which was one of the initiatives funded by the QEDJT.

The Countess presented glasses to some of the school children who had participated in the programme.

"I am extremely proud that the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Trust played a vital part in funding the early testing of this amazing programme.

Her Late Majesty placed eyesight at the forefront of the work of the Trust, working across the Commonwealth.”

The Countess of Wessex met the President of the Republic of Botswana.

That evening The Countess attended a Chevening and Commonwealth Scholars and Commonwealth Points of Light Reception, celebrating the academic and community-based accomplishments of young people.

Tuesday 11th October

At a reception for local entrepreneurs at the Residence of the British High Commissioner, in Gaborone, The Countess of Wessex met entrepreneurs and sampled some of their products.



Wednesday 12th October

The Countess of Wessex travelled from Ethiopia to Malawi.

On arrival, Her Royal Highness met Sightsavers and the British High Commissioner.

The Countess will visited the Ministry of Health and was received by The Honourable Khumbize Kandod Chiponda MP, Minister for Health, who presented the Director of Clinical Services, the Principal Secretary for Health, and Director of Medical Services.

Thursday 13th October

The Countess of Wessex joined in with national World Sight Day celebrations in Malawi as The King sent his congratulations to the President of Malawi  to mark the country’s successful elimination of trachoma.

Her Royal Highness spent the day with people who have benefitted from transformative trachomatous trichiasis surgery, as well as the opticians, surgions and healthcare workers who have helped Malawi reach this milestone.

“Today is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. Today is a day for celebration and happiness. Today we come together to witness a moment in history for Malawi. Today we say goodbye to blinding trachoma, on what is #WorldSightDay.” – The Countess of Wessex

That evening, Her Royal Highness presented His Majesty's letter to The President of Malawi at at the State House in Lilongwe.

Friday 14th October

On her final day in Botswana, The Countess of Wessex visited Kamuzu Central Hospital. 

Her Royal Highness met medical staff and heard about Sightsavers, inclusive eye health work and met project leaders and beneficiaries.

The Countess of Wessex was present as a patient reacted to seeing for the first time in three years after his bandages were removed following a cataract operation in the Ophthalmology Department.

Her Royal Highness also visited the hospital's neonatal and paediatric wards.