Dr Saleyha Ahsan
Saleyha Ahsan is a practising A&E doctor, a former Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and a broadcaster.
Saleyha regularly reports for The One Show on BBC One. Most recently, she presented a Dispatches programme titled Coronavirus: Can Our NHS Cope? exploring the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the UK’s health services for Channel 4.
Saleyha has also presented the hit BBC Two health series, Trust Me I'm a Doctor, The Truth About Fat for BBC One along with, Fast Tales about Ramadan also for BBC One and a BBC Two Horizon special on the Longitude Prize.
After passing out of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Saleyha joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, where she led her troop on an operational tour of Bosnia. It was there that Saleyha was inspired by the work of military doctors and applied to study medicine. Her medical and military background form the inspiration for her media work to date including reports for Newsnight on Army medical preparations for battleground theatres and a BBC Inside Out special on troops returning from service in Afghanistan.
Saleyha left the Army in 2000 and settled into being a medical student and also returned to journalism.
Once a civilian Saleyha proceeded to work in countries she had not been able to visit when she was in the Army and is currently working on projects based in both Algeria and Syria. Her interests continue to lie in hostile environments and she has full hostile environments training. Her on-screen experience began in 2001 when she was co-presented and filmed for a Chameleon Films series, Dangerous Journeys for Channel 4, which saw her travelling to both the Indian and Pakistan sides of Kashmir interviewing Kashmiri mujahideen in the pre-9/11 era. She presented a BBC Radio 5 Live Special report from within a mujahideen training camp in Kashmir, after gaining exclusive access just weeks after 9/11 and then also went onto make a further special report in Palestine during the intifada of 2002.
She maintains strong military related foundations to her storytelling. Her idea, ‘Pilots on Speed’, was commissioned through Lion TV as an extended news piece for Channel 4 news, telling the story of how US air force pilots take amphetamines before they go on their bombing missions over Afghanistan. She co-produced the film.
During the uprising in Libya, Saleyha spent six months independently filming doctors on the frontline. She reported for the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent, Channel 4 News online, BBC online, the BMJ online and Latitude News. She can self-shoot, which allows her to undertake solo projects and is currently filming on her Canon 60D dslr.
Saleyha has contributed to the Guardian’s Comment is Free pages which has included bringing a week-long series to Guardian Films about the use of secret evidence within the British Justice system. She has written for the Lancet and the New Internationalist.
She directed her debut cinematic short film My Mother’s Daughter in 2008 which won Best European Film at Los Angeles based film festival, Pangea Day backed by the TED organisation and also Best International Film for the Tehran based Parvania Etesami Film festival.
In 2011 Saleyha completed a masters degree in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law which has given her a greater depth of knowledge for her ongoing projects related to access to healthcare in conflict and the use of secret evidence within the British justice system. She completed her thesis to the sound of gunfire in Tripoli!
Her passion for storytelling has led to her first Radio 4 drama script commission The Road to Bani Walid whic broadcast in 2015.
During Saleyha's time in the British Army she gave regular presentations to large audiences with the Army Presentation Team.
She has also spoken at a number of events in her role as a doctor including at medical conferences. She has given talks about her time in Libya, where she both worked as a frontline doctor and as a journalist and filmmaker and has spoken at the Royal Society of Medicine Extreme Medicine conference.