14th April 2024
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South Sudan has only one female ophthalmologist

Author: Emmanuel J. Akile | Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Dr. Aja Paul, the Chairperson of Ophthalmic Association of South Sudan and Dr. Hellen Atti, a Cataract Surgeon at the Juba Teaching Hospital speak on Eye Radio's Dawn Show on the eve of International Women's Day. March 6, 2024. (Photo: Awan Moses).

South Sudan’s first and only female eye doctor is calling on women and girls to join her and specialize in the profession that helps thousands of people afflicted with eye problems in the country.

Dr. Aja Paul, also the Chairperson of Ophthalmic Association of South Sudan, encourages women and girls to study and become eye doctors.

Aja is the only female ophthalmologist in South Sudan, while the second woman pursuing the career is still at school in Uganda.

“Being a female ophthalmologist is really good, I want to encourage our young female to join in the field, because I’m the only one female. There is another young doctor who is coming, named Dr. Flora. I think in one year, she will join,” she said.

“She is now pursuing her masters in Uganda, so for us to be two, because I think it is a department that women can work well, being a mother and being a doctor.”

Eye illnesses are among the neglected tropical diseases in South Sudan, where there are only two active treatment centers in Juba.

An ophthalmologist treats dry eye syndrome, eyelid conditions such as blepharitis and styes, cataracts, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma or macular degeneration.

In 2020 in South Sudan, there were an estimated 1.1 million people with vision loss out of whom 91,000 were blind, according to the International Agency for Preventing Blindness.

On her part, Dr. Hellen Atti, a Cataract Surgeon at the Juba Teaching Hospital calls on women and girls to exert greater efforts in order to succeed in their careers.

“I’m encouraging women outside there, that today we started from zero and we reached this stage. It means if you have that interest, you will also go far, you start from zero and tomorrow you will be someone.”

“It needs your effort, don’t undermine yourself that you are just a woman, you have nothing, and you cannot do anything.”

The team from the Ministry of Health and Ophthalmic Association of South Sudan to which Dr. Aja Paul and Dr. Hellen Atti belong, fly with Mission Aviation Fellowship to isolated communities where they use their skills to help people to see again.

In April 2022, over 1,000 visually impaired people regained their sights following their treatment campaign in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.

The Eye campaign was in collaboration with the national Ministry of Health, the Ophthalmological Association, and the South Sudan Red Cross.

On March 8, 2024, South Sudan will mark the International Women’s Day 2024, a globally celebrated occasion that serves as a reminder to recognize and appreciate the contributions of women in all aspects of the society.

The event will be marked under the theme: “Accelerating Gender Equality through inclusion and access to productive resources for women and girls.”





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