Meet Dr. Gladys Atto; Karamoja’s Only Ophthalmologist


In a country where human resources for health are still a challenge, Dr. Gladys Atto chose to break odds becoming the first and Only Eye doctor in Karamoja sub region, a place with the highest cases of eye ailments.

With the rising number of sight problems reported in Karamoja sub region, having a team of doctors to handle the cases would be timely and efficient. Moroto Hospital receives between 500 to 1000 patients with eye problems requiring surgery every month; with March and December being the peak months. These can only get care when Dr. Gladys Atto is on duty.

As head of ophthalmology in Uganda’s remote Karamoja sub region, Dr. Atto has restored the sight of thousands who would have struggled to survive without their vision. Recruited as a hospital medical officer to work in Moroto district, the plight of patients could not see her execute only this role. Although she is a major resource to Moroto hospital, Dr Atto has had to attend to patients in all the nine districts of Karamoja Sub region

I was appointed as a Medical Officer at Moroto Regional Referral Hospital. I went back to school and returned in 2018 and started working here as the first ophthalmologist, Dr. Atto Gladys narrates.

The theatre is ever busy as Dr. Atto gets around her duties. In this particular incident, she was found working on Robert Okello; a patient with a cataract condition. This operation took only a few minutes. She says such cases are common in the region.

83,000 of the estimated 3.1 million people with vision related challenges in Uganda are blind yet there are only around 45 ophthalmologists in the country, the majority of which are working in urban centers, leaving out places like Karamoja where there is a high disease burden.