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Sun sets on Queen's Jubilee Trust; Namulauulu bound for Buckingham Palace

More than 700 Samoans have undergone screenings for diabetes and eye care and nurses were trained in their detection as part of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Trust programme, which comes to a close this week. 

The charitable trust was established in 2011, to mark and celebrate the Queen's 60-year reign. It concludes next week. 

Member of Parliament, Namulau’ulu Sami Leota, was appointed as Samoa's national representative to the Trust in 2012 in his capacity as the President of the Chamber of Commerce.  

He will be representing Samoa at the official closing ceremony, to be held at Buckingham Palace, next week. 

The Trust’s Director of Advocacy and Commonwealth Engagement, Eleanor Fuller, in a letter to Namulau’ulu noted the Trust was established with the blessing of Commonwealth Heads of Government as a new, time-limited and ambitious charitable initiative to honour Her Majesty’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth. 

“The Trust worked with the Fred Hollows Foundation to improve screening and treatment as well as raise awareness of diabetic retinopathy in Samoa," the letter reads. 

“There is much greater awareness of D.R. and the provision of a camera has substantially increased the number of screenings. 5,875 people have had their eyes screened and 350 people have received treatment.  255 nurses have been trained on diabetes and DR,” said Fuller."

Rates of diabetes in Samoa have soared: from about 6 per cent in the early 1970s to 23 per cent in 2011, according to the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science.

Two of the Queen’s Young Leaders from Samoa, awarded during the Trust programmes were Erna Takazawa and Petronilla Molioo Mataeliga. 

Erna Takazawa, who benefited from the Trust's 2015 Queens Leaders' award, studied optometry in New Zealand and became the first Samoan optometrist and has subsequently become the country's only optometrist. 

“Her efforts in promoting the need for affordable eye care have helped to lead to free eye care for under-16s and over-65s, free glasses for children and more affordable glasses for adults," the letter read," the letter read. 

“Petronilla helped provide valuable employment opportunities to young people in Samoa by reviving traditional native handicraft skills. Through the Fala Masi Revival Project, originally run by her late grandmother, Petronilla teaches other women how to create traditional Samoan mats.” 

Namulau’ulu said Samoa benefited from her majesty’s Trust’s programmes given Samoa’s ongoing fight against Non-Communicable Diseases including diabetes.   

“I want to acknowledge the Samoa Government and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi for appointing me to the role; enabled Samoa to tap into the programmes to assist the health care and also having young Samoan leaders receive awards is a milestone,” he said. 

Namulau’ulu told the Samoa Observer the since 2012, the Trust’s programmes secured support that was channeled through the Ministry of Health and various scholarships offered through the Trust. 

“Last month the C.E.O. of the Trust, Dr Astrid Bonfield was in Samoa and met with recipients and Government leaders including the M.O.H. to wrap up the programme," he said. 

Dr Bonfield was hosted by Namulau'ulu and the British Consul to Samoa, Taulapapa Brenda Heath,  in a reception held at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Hotel and Bungalows. 

A summary of the trust's charitable endeavours over the past nine years is included below:

THE TRUST PROGRAMMES IN THE COMMONWEALTH 

The Trust’s programmes have now concluded, and the Trust will close as planned next week.  I am writing to let you know what was achieved overall, and more specifically in Samoa.

The Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium

The World Health Organization’s World Report on Vision published this month highlights that a shortage of trained human resources is one of the greatest challenges to ending avoidable blindness.  The Trust created the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, a network of leading training institutions across the Commonwealth, to increase capacity to deliver quality eye care.  The Consortium has delivered training, research and pioneering new, affordable technology, as well as forging enduring cross-Commonwealth links and specialist networks between eye health professionals.  It has drawn on expertise in every region and has reached every Commonwealth country, and many others besides: for example to date its online courses have been taken by more than 23,000 people in 188 countries; the smartphone vision testing app Peek Vision has been downloaded and used by 50,000 people in 160 countries.

The Trachoma Initiative

The Trust’s Trachoma Initiative focussed on the elimination of blinding trachoma, a neglected tropical disease endemic in a number of Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Pacific which slowly and painfully robs sufferers – the majority women - of their sight.  Through programmes in 12 countries the Trust supported Ministries of Health to accelerate progress towards elimination.  This called for large scale interventions:  overall 22 million people received doses of antibiotics to halt the transmission of the disease; over 100,000 people received sight saving surgery; over 60,000 volunteers were trained to find trachoma cases; over 80,000 sanitation facilities were constructed or upgraded, and 245 surgeons trained.  As a result all the target countries have made substantial progress towards elimination of the disease and two are soon to apply to the World Health Organization to be verified as trachoma free. 11 million people living in the Commonwealth are no longer at risk of going blind from trachoma.  This rapid progress helped attract new funding to support Governments to complete the task of eliminating the disease - an historic milestone in global health.

The Diabetic Retinopathy Initiative

Sight loss from diabetes is becoming the fastest growing cause of avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth. As a result of the Trust’s Initiative the health systems of 13 Commonwealth countries now provide to those at risk regular eye screening and treatment for sight loss from diabetes.

The Retinopathy of Prematurity Initiative

Premature babies at risk of sight loss require careful care, screening and where necessary prompt treatment to avoid it.  The Trust worked in India, where 25% of the world’s premature births occur, to address this risk.  India has now adopted and implemented national health care guidelines to ensure that babies born prematurely whose eyesight is at risk receive screening and treatment as a standard part of their neonatal care.

Sustaining progress

As the Trust itself leaves the scene, it is delighted that Commonwealth leaders have embraced the cause of eye health, ensuring that progress will be sustained.  At CHOGM in 2018 Heads of Government committed to take action towards achieving access to quality eye care for all, including the elimination of blinding trachoma, and to return to the issue at future CHOGMs (CHOGM communiqué, paragraph 33)

The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme

The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme discovered, celebrated and developed young people demonstrating exceptional leadership skills and working for the common good in their communities.  240 Queen’s Young Leaders from 53 Commonwealth countries received awards and have been equipped with new skills and networks to take their work to the next level. 

The Programme also provided grants have been provided to 22 youth-led or youth-focused organisations in six Commonwealth countries which supported over 27,000 young people to secure jobs, start businesses or create meaningful change in their communities.

 

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