In an official statement, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Countess of Wessex will visit India.
Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, Vice Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, will visit India in her final overseas tour as Vice-Patron ahead of the Trust’s planned closure in January 2020. The Countess will see the work the charitable foundation has supported to tackle avoidable blindness in babies born prematurely and to hear about the impact of programmes successfully launched by Queen’s Young Leaders. Her Royal Highness will visit Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi from Monday 29th April to Friday 3rd May.
The Countess of Wessex will visit three hospitals across Hyderabad to see first-hand the work the Trust has helped to establish to prevent premature babies from losing their sight. Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a major cause of childhood blindness affecting thousands of preterm babies born in India – home to the highest number of preterm births in the world. The Countess will see the screening and treatment services that have been introduced to ensure babies at risk of the avoidable condition receive the timely treatment they need to prevent blindness. Her Royal Highness will meet with leading eye health professionals who have been instrumental in setting up and delivering the services, and parents and children who have, or have had, the condition.
In Mumbai, The Countess will visit a school where Her Royal Highness will meet Queen’s Young Leader, Deane de Menezes, whose project ‘Red is the new Green’ aims to destigmatise menstruation, improve access to menstrual hygiene and ultimately prevent female absenteeism in schools. The Countess will also visit a health centre where Her Royal Highness will meet Queen’s Young Leader Aditya Kulkarni whose pioneering ‘Care Mother’ antenatal app has helped to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in India. The Countess will meet health workers and mothers, and hear how the app has helped over 30,000 women from disadvantaged communities in India access antenatal care.
In New Delhi, The Countess will join the British High Commissioner in hosting a reception to celebrate the collaborative efforts to advance eye health in India. The Countess will deliver a speech in which Her Royal Highness will reflect on the progress achieved by the Trust in the name of The Queen and encourage efforts to continue and be taken to a greater scale so that vision is brought to everyone, everywhere. The reception will recognise the preparatory work underway to create a Vision Catalyst Fund – an endeavour inspired by the work of the Trust – which will see public and private sector organisations with expertise in eye health coming together with an ambition to accelerate systems change and expand universal eye health across the globe.
The Countess will also undertake engagements in New Delhi in support of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS) and championing the empowerment of women. Her Royal Highness will join a roundtable discussion on WPS to share ideas and hear how India is engaging in this area and consider how the UK and India can work more collaboratively in tackling challenges relating to gender-based violence in conflict. The Countess will also learn about the Women on Wheels initiative which empowers young women from poorer communities to become professional drivers to enable them to have better employment opportunities.
Her Royal Highness will conclude the visit by attending a reception celebrating a cross-section of remarkable women living and working in India.