Leading Dominican ophthalmologist Dr Hazel Maria Shillingford-Ricktetts was presented to Her Majest)y The Queen at a special Reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 29th October to mark the completion of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s (the Trust) programmes to end avoidable blindness – see images attached.
Between 1996 and 2018, when she reached retirement age, Dr Shillingford-Ricketts was the only ophthalmologist in Dominica, and remains the only person in the country trained to treat diabetic retinopathy – a major cause of avoidable blindness, with rates growing faster in the Caribbean than anywhere else in the world.
Dr Shillingford-Ricketts has been instrumental in the delivery of the Trust’s programme in Dominica which has worked with its coordinating partner the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Ministry of Health to secure permanent changes to Dominica’s public health system by integrating screening and quality treatment for diabetic retinopathy into the care provided to people with diabetes. By focusing on strengthening the health system, the aim has been to implement an effective screening and treatment plan that will not only protect the sight of those people who currently have diabetes in Dominica but also those who in the future will develop the condition.
As part of the measures taken to improve access to quality eye care for people in Dominica with diabetes, the programme has established a well-equipped screening and laser treatment site for diabetic retinopathy at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Roseau, to complement its existing mobile service. Together, these services are aiming to provide full coverage and reach all people with diabetes across the island who may be at risk of losing their sight.
Dr Shillingford-Ricketts is featured in a new book – A Lasting Legacy – which tells the stories of 62 individuals from 54 countries whose lives have changed as a result of the Trust. Dr Shillingford-Rickett’s unique story can be read on page 140 – 141: https://www.jubileetribute.org/img/publications/A-Lasting-Legacy.pdf