Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex is currently on a four-day royal visit to Malawi where she is meeting young leaders and supporting the fight to end avoidable blindness, both initiatives of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
With support from the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative, the central region of Chulu in the Kasunga district has successfully eliminated trachoma – an infectious, blinding disease – as a public health problem and Malawi is on track to be one of only eight countries in the world to eliminate the disease by 2018.
Before visiting with families affected by trachoma the Countess gave a speech in which she said: ‘On behalf of the Queen I am proud of the wonderful work being done in eliminating trachoma. I thank everyone, from the top-most level to the ground, for working tirelessly. This is the crucial moment where you should not remove the foot on the pedal. You should continue doing the good work so that in the next two years the country should be declared trachoma free.’
She went on to recognise the leadership role the Ministry of Health has taken and the important support from partners such as Sightsavers and Water Aid.
Minister of Health Dr Peter Kumpalume also said a few words and made sure to thank the role of the Health Surveillance Assistants. He said: ‘I really thank the good work that the HSAs have played in eliminating this disease. They were there on the ground feeding into the health system some information that decision makers relied on. I really appreciate their role. They work as detectives. They are “disease detective officers”.’
Kumpalume also spoke about the overall importance of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative and how the fact that 6,000 eye surgeries connected to trachoma were performed within the last four years alone shows just how significant the numbers of those affected.