The accolades, from the the International Association and Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), recognise and celebrate young and upcoming staff and volunteers within the eye health sector. The three winners are Dr Fiza Rasool, Dr Jalikutu Mustaphe and Dr Patrick Ndongmo. They all attended an online awards ceremony which was held on 17 September.
Sightsavers CEO, Dr Caroline Harper, said: “It’s fantastic to see the hard work of these three amazing individuals get recognised.
“They are all inspirational role models to anyone looking to work in eye health and have already achieved so much in the world of eye health care. I look forward to seeing where their hard work, talent and passion for the cause takes them in the future.”
The ‘Change Makers’ award was won by Dr Jalikutu Mustapha, a Sightsavers ophthalmologist who has made positive change to eye care in Sierra Leone where she works. She has worked with partners to improve rates of cataract coverage, reduce the burden of glaucoma, increase available data on national eye health and strengthen health care systems and infrastructure.
The award for ‘Future Leaders’ went to Patrick Ndongmo from Cameroon, who is Sightsavers’ technical adviser for onchocerciasis (river blindness) for neglected tropical disease (NTD) programme Ascend. Patrick became interested in river blindness elimination when he discovered that despite 15 years of work in one area of Cameroon, the area remained endemic. He has since used his expertise to support countries in their efforts towards the elimination of this avoidable blinding disease.
Optometrist Fiza Rasool won in the ‘Innovators’ category for her defiance of gender barriers and her work towards eye heath in Pakistan. She has contributed to one of the largest child eye health initiatives in the country under the Seeing is Believing programme, which decreased cataract related blindness by up to 36 per cent. She has become a role model for other women and young people looking to work in eye health in Pakistan.
The Eye Health Heroes will have the opportunity to participate in a year-long programme that includes attending exclusive online ‘Eye Inspire’ events delivered by key sector leaders, and to contribute their own content to the IAPB.
Sightsavers began working in Kenya in 1952, when blindness affected up to 7% of rural Kenyans.
Sightsavers has been awarded $16.9 million to continue and expand its deworming work, after a funding recommendation from US charity evaluator GiveWell.
Sightsavers has partnered with the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance to help make the hospitality sector accessible to everyone, with a particular focus on Africa and Asia.