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Dr Jalikatu Mustapha is a young ophthalmologist that is injecting much needed enthusiasm, and dynamism into the Sierra Leone eye care programme. She is a fine example of the future in eye care.
She has worked with local and international partners to make major changes to eye care delivery in Sierra Leone and bring about positive change. This has included, but is not limited to, improving eye health information in the country, including completing a nationwide assessment of the eye health services available across Sierra Leone as well the very first cataract audit research. She has been instrumental in increasing rates of cataract surgeries in her department and in re-implementing a nationwide cataract surgical outreach campaign to hard-to-reach populations.
Dr Mustapha has also worked to raise awareness of the burden of glaucoma in Sierra Leone. She has been involved in vital work to increase rates and quality of detection, treatment and surgeries as well as performing the first ever glaucoma research in the country. Her contribution has helped to strengthen health systems dedicated to the condition, from starting up clinics to bringing in patient lists.
Her role in advocacy work for eye health has also meant that: for the first time, surgical outreach was conducted in a hard to reach area (Kabala) exclusively using government funds; Connaught hospital eye department received an anaesthesia machine and a trained anaesthetist; chemotherapy has been started for Retinoblastoma patients at the Ola During Children’s Hospital; the first ever face-face engagement on eye health was done with the entire parliamentary committee on health; and new partners have been engaged in eye health in Sierra Leone. In her role as a lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone she has also inspired others to take up ophthalmology as a career.
It is with the development and empowerment of the next generation of eye health implementers, motivators and leaders that the much needed growth in coverage happen and can be sustained. I believe Sightsavers can be proud of having developed such talent.
“As her eye pad is removed the day after cataract surgery, 74-year old Amina, bilaterally blind for 3 years, happily shouts ‘Doctor, I can see you clearly”. That look of pure joy and hope in her eyes, is why I love my job. To be able to help people like Amina get back their sight and usually, their agency, dignity and livelihood, is an absolute blessing to me.
Overseeing Sierra Leone’s Eye Care programme, means not only helping individuals like Amina, but developing policies that will protect present and future generations from avoidable blindness in our country.”
– Jalikatu Mustapha