The Countess of Wessex spent day two of her India tour Tuesday visiting Niloufer Hospital in Hyderabad to see first-hand how the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is helping to prevent avoidable blindness in premature babies.
“Before the Trust’s programme launched in 2015, there were no screening & treatment services for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) at Niloufer Hospital. Today, all preterm babies born at the hospital are screened for ROP as part of their standard care,” said the Trust in an Instagram post.
During her tour of the hospital, which cares for more than 10,000 preterm babies each year, Sophie learned about the steps they take to screen and treat premature babies for ROP.
The Countess donned protective clothing as doctors and nurses took her to see some of the preterm babies in the special care unit and explain the treatments being carried out at the hospital. She also met with mothers and patients in the hospital’s Kangaroo Ward.
In a video on The Royal Family Instagram account, the countess met a pair of twins. After seeing the babies, Sophie said “The trouble is, of course, you realise when you become a mother we should have all been made with three arms. Because you have one for the shopping, one for the baby and then you can’t open the door.” Looking at the twins, she added that their mother “should have had five!”
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The Countess of Wessex meets mothers and their babies in the Kangaroo Care Ward during a visit to Niloufer Hospital in Hyderabad. Her Royal Highness continues to see the impact of programmes supported by @qejubileetrust which includes training modules and education to improve quality of preterm care in neonatal intensive care units and ongoing support groups for parents who have a child affected by Retinopathy of prematurity, a condition exclusive to premature babies which can lead to irreversible blindness without treatment.
“Sleeping well. We like it when they sleep,” she said as she met more of the families in the Kangaroo Ward. The mothers were holding their babies wrapped against their chests giving skin-to-skin contact, which is encouraged in the hospital.
A highlight of the day was when the Countess met three-year-old Rishita, who received sight-saving eye surgery after developing ROP. The young girl was born prematurely at 28 weeks and weighed only 650g. Sophie spoke with Dr Yadaiah, who saved Rishita’s life and her sight, learning more about how he was able to treat her ROP.
Sophie smiled and clapped as she interacted with the three-year-old, and before departing, received a framed gift with photos showing Rishita’s remarkable story.
Next up, the Countess of Wessex will head to a school in Mumbai and meet with Queen’s Young Leader, Deane de Menezes. Her project “Red is the New Green” is targeted at destigmatising menstruation and improving access to menstrual hygiene.
She also will head to a health centre to meet another Queen’s Young Leader, Aditya Kulkarni, who created an antenatal app called “Care Mother” that has reduced maternal and child mortality rates in India.