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Countess of Wessex visits Malawi

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HAPPY WITH MALAWI’S FEAT— The Countess of Wessex

Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, who is also the Countess of Wessex, Sophie, arrives in Malawi Wednesday for a two-day visit aimed at celebrating gains the Government of Malawi and partners have made in eliminating trachoma.

Trachoma is an infection of the eye caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease is a public health problem in 44 countries and responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people. It further indicates that blindness from trachoma is irreversible.

According to a statement which the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has released, the Countess of Wessex— who is a member of the British royal family and married to Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest brother of King Charles III— “will celebrate with the Malawian Government and partners the huge steps taken over the last decade to eliminate the infectious eye disease trachoma”.

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During her tour of Malawi, she will visit Salima District to appreciate how the national trachoma elimination programme has benefitted people as well as appreciate how the Ministry of Health and partners have worked at the district level to implement the interventions required to stop the spread of trachoma.

She is also scheduled to participate in activities marking World Sight Day on October 13.

“Her Royal Highness will also visit Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe to appreciate the work of the ophthalmology department in tackling blindness as well as seeing how other UK Aid-funded programmes, including the oxygen plant that was built in 2020 as part of the Covid response, helped save lives at the height of the pandemic,” the statement indicates.

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Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Malawi, Fiona Ritchie, has said the Countess of Wessex’s visit to Malawi is testimony that “impressive health outcomes” can be achieved despite facing challenges.

“We are delighted to welcome HRH [Her Royal Majesty] The Countess of Wessex to Malawi to join celebrations to mark the elimination of trachoma. This is the outcome of investment and strong partnerships between the government, Sightsavers and development partners including UKAid,” she says.

Last month, WHO announced that Malawi had become the first country in Southern Africa to eliminate trachoma.

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