Sightsavers-trained doctor appointed deputy minister of health in Sierra Leone

August 2023

An eye expert from Sierra Leone who was trained by Sightsavers has been named deputy minister of health in the country.

Dr Jalikatu Mustapha was appointed on 15 July and took the oath of office from the Sierra Leone president on 31 July.

Dr Jalikatu graduated from the University of Nairobi and trained as an ophthalmologist with Sightsavers between 2012 and 2016, funded by the European Union and Irish Aid. She became the only female ophthalmologist in Sierra Leone, and now works alongside five male colleagues to provide eye health care in the country.

With Sightsavers’ support, she was named an Eye Health Hero by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness in 2020, and received a video call from Queen Elizabeth II and the Countess of Wessex to celebrate her achievement.

She continued her training and is now the leading glaucoma surgeon in Sierra Leone. She is also the first woman to hold the role of national eye health programme manager in the country.

Dr Jalikatu said: “I really look forward to continue working with you all to take eye health and health care forward. Eye health remain a top priority for me, and I would like to lead the ministry’s efforts in this area. I hope this leadership position gives me a better platform to advocate for eye health.

“Sightsavers deserves special thanks for the role you have played in my career development, making me the ophthalmologist I am today. It is only because of my eye health work that I was given such a superb recognition by the president.

“I am really excited, and I can’t wait to see all we can do.”

Dr Jalikatu smiles while wearing her surgical coat.

“As a woman, you’re always trying to prove that you belong”

Dr Jalikatu has faced big challenges in her career. Yet as soon as she saw the impact that eye care could have, she knew it was her calling.

Read her story
Dr Jalikatu uses ophthalmology equipment to examine a man's eyes.
Dr Jalikatu is one of six ophthalmologists in Sierra Leone.

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