British royal to visit Malawi this week


A member of the British royal family will visit Malawi from 12 to 14 October to join celebrations to mark the elimination of trachoma in the country.

Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, who is also the Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)  is coming to Malawi. Sophie is married to Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest brother of King Charles III.

In Malawi, The Countess of Wessex will celebrate with the Malawian Government and partners, the huge steps taken over the last decade to eliminate the infectious eye disease trachoma.

Ms Ritchie

The British royal will visit Salima District to see first-hand how the national trachoma elimination programme has benefited the lives of the people of Malawi, and to appreciate how the Ministry of Health and their partners have worked at the district level to implement the interventions required to stop the spread of trachoma. She will also take part in activities to mark World Sight Day in Malawi on 13 October.

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-19 response, helped save lives at the height of the pandemic.

Commenting on the visit, British High Commissioner to Malawi Ms Fiona Ritchie said: “We are delighted to welcome HRH 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.

“Malawi is rightly proud to tell this remarkable story to the whole world about the impressive health outcomes that can be achieved despite numerous challenges, disruptions and economic shocks, for example Covid-19, and natural disasters such as cyclones and floods.”

Trachoma, one of the twenty diseases classed as ‘neglected tropical diseases’ (NTDs), is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. Last month, the World Health Organisation announced that Malawi had become the first country in Southern Africa to eliminate it. Predominant in areas where there are chronic water shortages and poor sanitation, trachoma starts off as a bacterial infection similar to conjunctivitis. It is easily treatable through antibiotics.  However, if left untreated, the disease causes progressive scarring to the eyelid,  causing intense pain and eventually leading to permanent blindness.


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