Sandika Baboolal is a consultant ophthalmic surgeon, lecturer and PhD candidate, as well as the first South African to be accepted into the Glaucoma Fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, a prestigious and internationally renowned institute in the field of eye care.
“Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally and most severely affects those of African descent,” Baboolal explains. “I was inspired to apply as a consultant in South Africa, treating advanced and complex glaucoma patients with limited options. There are no similar programmes offered in South Africa or on the African continent.”
Most surgical fields are male-dominated, and ophthalmology is no different. Baboolal’s presence as a researcher, practitioner, and teacher has inspired many other young women of colour to enter into surgical specialisations, and she has directly helped many of them along their path. “My proudest moment is being able to return to my undergraduate university, 10 years after I graduated with my first medical degree, as a consultant ophthalmic surgeon and lecturer,” Baboolal says. “This position helped me mentor other female surgeons of colour en route to becoming specialist eye surgeons. It is not an easy road.”
Upon her return from the fellowship in London, Baboolal aims to work on improving the academic and clinical resources for surgical trainees. She also hopes to work in the public sector, saying: “With the skills learnt, I also aim to improve the outcomes of advanced and complex glaucoma patients, helping to more effectively preserve their sight.” What drives her to work so hard? In her own words: “Being able to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of others through striving to heal, be kind, mentor and inspire definitely drives me towards excellence.”