In an unannounced trip to Bangladesh, The Countess of Wessex has been focussing on eyesight problems with her patronage the Diamond Jubilee Trust.
On Sunday, Sophie arrived in Bangladesh, meeting with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, at Gana Bhaban, her official residence.
— Rookie (@royalfocus1) November 19, 2017
She then headed to Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute and Hospital in Dhaka, where she assisted in an eye test and helped remove 10-year-old Billal’s bandages after his cataract surgery. This visit was on behalf of Orbis, which fights against preventable blindness; Sophie has supported them for a number of years and is a Global Ambassador of the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness.
The royal visitor unveiled a plaque to mark her visit, and seemed to enjoy meeting the youngsters there, including a newborn and a toddler.
Later that day, the Countess attended the 5th annual Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award ceremony as the award’s global ambassador. Here, she handed out nearly 250 certificates.
On Monday, it was on to find out how projects supported by the trust are tackling the escalating problem of blindness caused by diabetes for Sophie. The trust is also seeking to end trachoma across the world, with the Countess having penned an article on her support for the topic earlier this year.
Sophie went to the Sher-e Bangla Medical College and Hospital, which runs a successful department dedicated to the screening and treatment of people with diabetic retinopathy, sight problems caused by the condition. Here, she met staff and patients of the facility, and even had her own eyes screened! The equipment is funded by the Diamond Jubilee Trust.
Just a few weeks ago, Sophie visited Brunei with her husband, Prince Edward, to mark the Sultan’s Golden Jubilee.
The Countess of Wessex then went on to visit two rural community awareness programmes in Fultola, which work with the local population to help prevent the onset of diabetic retinopathy, to save more people’s sight. She travelled there by boat.
Bangladesh has one of the highest numbers of people with diabetes in the world and the number of people going blind from the disease is expected to triple by 2030. Screening and early treatment is imperative to prevent blindness. Sophie last visited in 2009.
A performance of educational drama and music on the importance of nutrition and eye screening was shown to The Queen’s daughter-in-law in Balurmath, before meeting the performers.
Through dance & song we’re raising awareness and preventing blindness from diabetes in remote parts of Bangladesh 🎶🎶 pic.twitter.com/NQQKlaBfdC
— DiamondJubileeTrust (@qejubileetrust) November 20, 2017
Another project explained to the royal guest how a local ophthalmologist is teaching women who live in the rural communities about diabetes and nutrition, and how the two are linked. These women spoke to Sophie, sharing how they take what they have learnt and share it with their families and friends.
Sophie enjoyed a coconut whilst there drinking through a straw.
You can hear from the Countess herself about the importance of her visit in a video she did with the trust:
The Countess missed The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s family dinner last night, being on this trip.
Earlier today, the Royal visited Orbis Flying Eye Hospital in Chittagong. She views the facilities of the plane, kitted out for all kinds of eye treatments and even had a nosey in the cockpit.
Following the plane visit, the 52-year-old Countess went to Chittagong War Cemetery, where she laid a wreath. She then spent time walking amongst the graves in quiet reflection.
The evening was rounded off with Sophie attending a winter garden party at The British High Commission.