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Countess of Wessex saves boy’s sight after noticing condition on trip to Bangladesh

A young Bangladeshi boy has had an operation on a squint, following the Countess of Wessex meeting him and his parents, while she was visiting Bangladesh on behalf of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust last November, the Trust has announced. The announcement was made this week and coincided with the Countess’s fifty-third birthday. She had been out in the remote Bangladeshi village of Barisal in her capacity as Vice-Patron of the Trust, to see work being undertaken by the trust to combat eye problems caused by diabetes amongst the tribes.

She met the Bangladeshi boy, Junayed, the seven-month-old baby of parents, Saidul and Fatima. The Countess instantly noticed Junayed had a squint and was concerned that he needed treatment. Her own daughter, Lady Louise, had suffered from a squint in her early years which has now been corrected, leading to the knowledge of the Countess. Following the meeting, the Fred Hollows Foundation which has been working with the Trust arranged for the parents to attend a clinic to see what was involved, and then earlier this month for Junayed to attend Shre-e Bangla Medical College and Hospital for treatment.

Before the Trust began working in the area, eye problems frequently went undiagnosed and untreated as the nearest suitable hospital was in Dhaka, a good days walk for most of the people. There was also a great deal of fear about what was involved, through this positive experience, Junayed’s parents learnt about the importance of eye care, and were freed of their worries – hopefully through this, their word of mouth will allay others fears.

Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “It is such wonderful news to learn that Junayed has received successful treatment to correct his squint, a condition that is often not picked up in time for treatment to be effective.  As our Vice-Patron, and in her many other roles across eye health sector, The Countess has been instrumental in raising global awareness about the issue of avoidable blindness, and calling advocating for eye health access to people who need it most. The Countess was visibly moved by this little boy, and I’m sure she will be thrilled that his condition is being treated. I can’t think of a better birthday present than knowing you’ve saved someone’s sight.”

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