Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh, Global Ambassador for the IAPB

Her Royal Highness (HRH), The Duchess of Edinburgh is a member of the UK Royal Family and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

Her Royal Highness splits her time between her work in support of The King and visits to a large number of her own charities and organisations. She has a wide range of interests which include supporting people with disabilities, the prevention of blindness in developing countries, agriculture and fashion.

In her role as Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Her Royal Highness visited our work in India in 2013, to experience an Orbis Flying Eye Hospital programme and learn about the sight saving services being provided to the local community in Kolkata. From there, she departed the country with our unique aircraft as our special guest and travelled to Qatar to relay what she had seen.

The Duchess passionately discussed the global issues around preventable blindness and the need for funding for eye health programmes. The State of Qatar’s interest in this area resulted in the creation of the Qatar Creating Vision initiative, a sight saving programme funded by the Qatar Fund for Development and implemented by Orbis.

Her Royal Highness

The Duchess of Edinburgh

As Glob­al Ambas­sador for the Inter­na­tion­al Agency for the Pre­ven­tion of Blind­ness, I am keen­ly aware of the vast num­bers of blind and visu­al­ly impaired peo­ple across the world whose lives might be very dif­fer­ent if they could access treat­ment. Chil­dren are miss­ing out on oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn, to play, to have big dreams and achieve them, sim­ply because they don’t have access to a pair of glass­es or rou­tine surgery.

In 2015, a special celebration was held at Buckingham Palace to announce Qatar Creating Vision and it’s aim to reduce childhood blindness across India and Bangladesh. Programmes began in 2016, and to date, over 6.6 million eye tests and treatments have been delivered.

We were lucky enough to once again welcome Her Royal Highness to our programmes, this time to Dhaka and Chattogram in Bangladesh and then on to Qatar to discuss the progress of the initiative so far. The Duchess was even reacquainted with nurse Mammoth Adhikary, who she met in the Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute in 2009. Mammoth was involved in the very first Orbis Flying Eye Hospital programme in Bangladesh back in 1985 and is now Head Nurse at the hospital.

Countess of Wessex meeting Mammoth Adhikary, Flying Eye Hospital nurse from 1985, now head nurse at Islamia

Rebecca Cronin

CEO, Orbis UK

We have been very priv­i­leged to wel­come Her Roy­al High­ness, The Duchess of Edin­burg, to sev­er­al of our sight sav­ing pro­grammes in India and Bangladesh. Whilst there, HRH has met patients, fam­i­lies, hos­pi­tal staff and our med­ical vol­un­teers, both with­in local hos­pi­tals and on board our Fly­ing Eye Hos­pi­tal. The depth of her knowl­edge of eye con­di­tions, her inter­est in the area and the time she takes when speak­ing to every­one she meets is inspir­ing. Over the years, the sup­port Her Roy­al High­ness has giv­en to eye care char­i­ties has enabled us to attract more sup­port, and there­fore expand our work in coun­tries where eye care ser­vices are scarce. The Duchess cap­tures the hearts and minds of every­one she meets and we’re grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with her.

Royal visits have been key to drawing global attention to the devastating impact of untreated vision loss.

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