Dr. Haddy Sohna

Our First Surgeon in The Gambia


Haddy Sohna approaches her work with a rare sense of ease. Taking care of four children would be a full time job for most, but Haddy manages to balance that responsibility with her work as both a cataract surgeon and partnership coordinator for the HelpMeSee campaign in The Gambia.


Haddy’s journey in health began almost three decades ago, not long after she was born. When she was younger, her mother worked for years as a nurse in Barra, a community on the north bank of the River Gambia. Her mother’s passion for helping others rubbed off on her daughter, who decided to follow a similar track into nursing.


Haddy worked her way up from her first job in healthcare to earn an advanced diploma in Surgical Ophthalmic Nursing, a unique programme in Africa that trains and certifies nurses in cataract surgery. Today she’s one of the top cataract surgeons in The Gambia and estimates that she has done 500 cataract surgeries since she became certified.


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Haddy at work in the operating theater at Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre in The Gambia.


Somehow she never seems stressed. Maybe it’s just her nature. Or perhaps it’s a product of the work.


“Through your day to day experience, you know you’ve changed a lot of lives.”

— Haddy Sohna, HelpMeSee Partner Surgeon


Ask what intrigues her most and she’ll tell you that there’s a certain privilege to restoring someone’s sight. Whether it was curing a 33-year-old woman who was shunned by her family after she became blind or restoring the sight of a local fisherman, Haddy can share dozens of stories about the impact she feels from her work.


Haddy, meanwhile, was busy in the operating theater just two days later. With the latest influx of patients from the launch of the HelpMeSee campaign, she became involved in the entire process, from entering patients in the surgical reporting system to testing our surgical kit and conducting surgery. She will help to train other staff members as the campaign grows.


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Haddy shows a clinician the surgical reporting system (at left) and enters a patient into the quality assurance database.



During our campaign launch Haddy worked closely with our Medical Officer for Africa and offered crucial feedback on our single-use surgical kit, a key tool to help reduce the risk of infections. She also treated many of the first patients who received care under the partnership between Sheikh Zayed and HelpMeSee, including an educator whose family runs several major schools.


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Haddy with a patient whose family runs several major schools in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.


Haddy holds a number of responsibilities, but her favorite is surgery. For her, restoring sight “is the most interesting part. That’s what motivates me.”


From her patient’s smiles, it’s easy to see why.