Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), has visited Qatar with Orbis.

During her visit, The Countess met with organisations, charities, and dignitaries who are championing crucial eye healthcare programmes, in support of the IAPB’s ‘2030 in Sight’ initiative. The IAPB’s campaign seeks to highlight the scale of avoidable blindness, and to promote a collaborative, global approach to ensuring eye care and rehabilitation facilities are available to everyone who needs them, wherever they are in the world.

The pandemic has created a backlog of vital eye treatments and surgeries around the world and organisations such Orbis, are working hard to get eye care services back on track. Read on below to learn more about our partners who she met and an interesting visit to the National Museum of Qatar and their inclusive exhibition.

Day One - Tuesday – 11Th January 2022

On the first official day of the Royal visit to Doha, Her Royal Highness met with Orbis partner Qatar Charity. Orbis and Qatar Charity have collaborated on a previous successful programme delivering eye care initiatives in Bangladesh, thanks to the generosity of donors from across the country. Between 2015 and 2020, more than a million people accessed eye health facilities to receive the eye tests or treatments they needed, 21 new cataract surgeons received training and nurses also completed almost a hundred trainings in clinical, nursing and training management. This led to the number of surgeries performed each year increasing, totalling more than 48,000.

Qatar Charity’s CEO, Mr Yousef bin Ahmed AlKuwari said : “Qatar Charity and Orbis have built a solid partnership in support of eye health care for marginalised and vulnerable populations. Today, we look forward to building on a successful track record with Orbis and expand our cooperation to more hard-to-reach areas to ensure a sustainable, inclusive, quality vision care for all”.

Rebecca Cronin, Orbis UK CEO said: “Our previous programme with Qatar Charity provided so many with access to quality eye care services. Without treatments, people’s livelihoods and educations can be in jeopardy. With this new programme, we can continue working with our partners to provide care to many people who have never had access to eye health before. We’re thankful for Qatar Charity’s continued passion to support our work to bring services closer to home for those who need it most.”

The Countess of Wessex also met with the CEO of Qatar’s Museums, Ahmad Al Namla and Dr. Hayat Khalil Hassan Nazar Heji, Consultant for Al Noor Institute For The Blind. Together they explored the National Museum of Qatar, which brings to life the country’s heritage and culture, from the archaeology of Qatar to its modern day.

The museum is committed to providing equal access to visitors, including tactile models with Braille interpretations as well as Multi-sensory and interactive features. Al Noor is a pioneering organisation that provide education and rehabilitation alongside raising awareness for the need to integrate vital services for those with vision loss into all aspects of society.

Day Two - Wednesday – 12Th January 2022

Day two of the Royal visit started with an exciting meeting with long time Orbis strategic partner, The Qatar Fund for Development where the fund committed to leveraging the success of the Qatar Creating Vision initiative.

In 2016, the Qatar Fund for Development and Orbis launched Qatar Creating Vision to tackle avoidable vision loss for children across India and Bangladesh. As a result, the largest school eye screening programme of its kind was created. In 2018, the initiative was expanded to South-East Bangladesh to support the Rohingya and local host communities. The four-year programme, which came to an end in 2020, improved eye care services across the two countries by delivering:

  • 6.7 million eye tests and treatments, including glasses and surgeries
  • 82,500 training sessions for eye care professionals and the community

HE Mr. Khalifa Al Kuwari, Director General of Qatar Fund for Development, said: “I would like to express my thanks for all the efforts made, and I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, for providing this great opportunity and making change around the world and to all the workforces who made this project a reality.”

HE added: "This necessary strategic partnership with Orbis comes to serve an important category and field, namely eye health, as QFFD believes in the importance of providing good health for all and in obligation to its commitments to the third goal of the sustainable development goals."

Dr Robert Walters, Chairman of Orbis in the Middle East said: “Programmes may last for a finite amount of time, but the impact of Qatar Creating Vision projects can be felt for generations to come. We’re grateful to the Qatar Fund for Development for their willingness to continue their fight against avoidable blindness, so that together we can serve communities across the world.”

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