HRH The Countess of Wessex discusses Orbis's work at WISH 2020

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex has taken part in a forum at the virtual World Innovation Summit for Health discussing 'The Role of Schools in Child and Adolescent Health'. From the 15th - 19th November, 300+ speakers joined forces to discuss some of the globes most pressing health concerns, with 40 evidence based reports being published.

The Panel

The topic brought together an influential panel who highlighted the vital part schools play in the well being of children's physical and mental wellbeing.

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex joined Her Excellency Sheikha Hind Hamad Al Thani - Qatar Foundation, Professor Russell Viner - University College London, Dr Matshidiso Moeti - World Health Organisation and Justin Van Fleet from TheirWorld and the session was moderated by BBC Broadcaster Dan Walker.

Key points were raised which brought a focus to the vast scale of issues facing our young people today:

  • Professor Viner: Children and young people are 25% of the global population but 100% a part the our future.
  • Dr Matshidiso Moeti: Important for school environments to be resilient
  • Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani: There is a general sense that education for longest time has gone through the path of one size fits all...we need to contextualise everything we do...especially when it comes to children and mental health
  • Justin van Fleet: 1.5 billion have been out of schools...if we don't get these children back into school...the future earnings of these children will be 10 trillion dollars less...impacting communities

Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex

"If you start with education...putting the child at the's amazing the ripple effect that can happen."

As global ambassador to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, we have been proud to welcome Her Royal Highness to view our work in Bangladesh and India. Throughout the forum The Countess discussed the Qatar Creating Vision initiative, funded by Qatar Fund for Development and implemented by Orbis.

Her Royal Highness commented: "In Bangladesh I met children who will now not lose out on an education having had cataracts removed and being prescribed glasses. In only four years since its inception, Qatar Creating Vision has become a lifeline to millions of children across India and Bangladesh. Through Orbis, the QCV initiative has delivered over 82,000 training sessions to doctors, nurses and crucially teachers and community health workers. All of them are now better equipped to identify early problems.

"The collaboration between health and education, hospitals and schools has led to 6.6 million screenings and treatments..."

Providing Children With a Voice

The Countess drew attention to the importance of empowering students to be advocates for health concerns and the benefits this brings. Several of our programmes build children into activity not just as beneficiaries but also as implementers through Vision Ambassador roles in India and School Eye Care Clubs in Ethiopia.

"...the engagement of children in helping to educate each other about the importance of eyecare is beginning to turn the tide in understanding that eye issues can be treated and glasses are good and that eyes are precious and important tools that facilitate study and potential work opportunities. And that poor eyesight or diseased eyes should not be ignored or accepted as fate."

"We all know that education is not only a right for every child throughout the world but that it lifts whole communities. The young vision ambassadors in India made up of school children are helping to run screening days, therefore assisting their counter parts to learn.

"This approach is playing an enormous role in changing attitudes and these messages are also helping other family members access help if they have eye conditions too.

"What we know is children are powerful advocates, both within their peer groups, but within their family networks too. What we need of course is for Governments to understand that education and health, when they work together, are a winning combination…"

Final Thoughts

To sum up, Her Royal Highness reflected on what she has learn through her experience's since becoming a global champion for eye health in 2011:

"I have learnt that eye care is vital to the furtherance of education, which leads to jobs. Eye care programmes are low cost and highly efficient. But the treatments are all there and can transform lives if people can access them and that together Government departments, Health workers, eye agencies, schools and children can work alongside each other to achieve great things and that’s what I call lessons very well learnt."

Watch the Full Forum and Learn More About the Role of Schools in Child Health

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