In December 2011, Trinidadian pediatrician/neonatologist Zulaika Ali’s received the NIHERST Women in Science award for her contributions to the disciplines of medicine/neonatology. She was featured in the NIHERST-produced book Caribbean Women in Science and Their Careers.
Reflecting on the Niherst award, Ali said: “I am immensely pleased since it involved not only the women of T&T but also the Caribbean. I was chosen for my contribution to science, medicine, paediatrics, neonatology, administration, lecturing and research. I felt it was a way of honouring other women in medicine. It was a way of encouraging them to excel. I feel I’m a role model.” Ali had spent about three decades caring for newborns; especially in the first month of their lives. She has tended to these fragile lives in the Caribbean, England and the United States. From her base at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, Ali has lobbied for improved healthcare for babies and children.
Some significant milestones in her career have been the extension of pediatric care to age 16 (“prior to that, it was limited to 11 for girls and 12 for boys”) and the implementation of recovery neonatal intensive care unit at Mt Hope Women’s Hospital. As the doctor explains, “Today, the service is able to treat newborn babies for a range of conditions, with advances in technology such as ventilating babies with sophisticated respiratory ailments.” Dr. Ali has also helped reduce the stigma and discrimination that HIV-positive infants and mothers have faced.