What institutions did she attend?

  • El Socorro Islamia Primary School, Trinidad
  • St Augustine Girls’ High School, Trinidad
  • The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica- Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Diploma of Child Health, Doctor of Medicine
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, UK

Other Achievements

  • Established training facilities using video conferencing at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex and the San
    Fernando General Hospital in partnership with the Ministry of Health Coordinator of the University’s HIV/AIDS Response Programme (UWIHARP) at the St Augustine Campus
  • President of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Council, 2009/2010
  • Director of the Trinidad and Tobago Health Training Centre
  • Franklyn Adams Fellowship in Perinatology at the University of Bristol, UK.


She enjoys gardening, travelling and reading.


Her students lovingly refer to her as “Zu”.

Zulaika Ali (Date of Birth: 26th Dec 1948)

Caribbean Women in STI

Professor Zulaika Ali is a true icon in medicine, one who is dedicated to her profession and recognised for her tremendous contribution to that field, through education and practice. She was responsible for setting up and heading the first neonatal intensive care unit in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as The UWI Telehealth Programme, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. The Telehealth Programme helps doctors treat children with complex medical conditions. It uses live interactive video-conferencing technology to facilitate patient consultation without patients having to travel abroad. The programme was developed in partnership with the HERBIE Fund, administered by the Hospital for Sick Children International Patient Programme in Toronto, Canada. It benefits sick children from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and other Caribbean countries.

Professor Ali is Professor of Child Health (Neonatology) at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine and the first woman to hold the post of Chair of Child Health at that campus. She was also Deputy Dean of Clinical Sciences at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, (UWI), St Augustine for eight years. A successful fundraiser, she has secured grants from international donors, local companies and the Trinidad and Tobago government to develop infrastructure and to train health care professionals to treat children with burns, cancer, and other critical conditions.

She has a passion for research and has published in medical books and recognized regional and international journals. She is the author of two medical books and several monographs on neonatal care. Her research interests are maternal exposure to substances such as pesticides, alcohol, and illicit drugs during pregnancy; the early markers of neonatal infection, the markers for diabetes and hypertension in pregnancy; and medical education.

Zulaika Ali was born on 26th December, 1948 and grew up in San Juan, Trinidad. She came from a large family of ten siblings. The family environment was instrumental in setting her on the path to studying medicine. It instilled love and caring for others, and provided opportunities to nurse the sick, to impart knowledge, and be independent.

In 2010, Professor Ali received the Chaconia Medal (Silver) for long and meritorious service to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the sphere of medicine. For students pondering about a career, her words of advice are that, “Any worthwhile goal must be pursued with dedication and passion.”


What is a neonatologist?

A neonatologist is a specialist in the field of paediatrics who is responsible for the medical care of newborn babies. These specialists are trained to handle the most complex and high-risk situations in infants. They provide special medical care to newborn babies with birth defects, injuries, low birth weight and complications arising from prematurity. Neonatologists usually work in the section of the hospital called the neonatal intensive unit.

What do I need to study?

At CSEC and CAPE: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics

At university, one must pursue medicine and, upon graduation, complete a one-year internship as well as paediatric
postgraduate training of four years in a paediatric facility This must be followed by two years of training in a neonatal intensive care unit.

What skills and traits do I need?

  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Good interpersonal and team skills
  • Self- management skills
  • Ability to work for long hours efficiently
  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Compassion
  • Patience

Famous Neonatologists

  • Abraham Jacobi
  • Virginia Apgar
  • Pierre Budin