In this spotlight series, we will feature members to highlight their accomplishments as immunization professionals and learn from their programs. This interview is with Martha Ndiko Ngoe, Cold-Chain Expanded Program Manager, with the Ministry of Public Health (sub-national level) in Cameroon.
What is your name, job title, and place of work?
Martha Ndiko Ngoe, Cold Chain Expanded Program for Immunization Manager, with the Ministry of Public Health in the South West Region (sub-national level) in Cameroon.
What or who influenced you to become an immunization/EPI professional? In other words, why did you pursue this career?
It is often said prevention is better than cure! Immunization has a proven record of preventing suffering and death due to vaccine preventable diseases especially in resources settings like in my country, Cameroon. As a young health professional posted at the district level (in a rural setting) in my country after completion of my professional education, I had that opportunity to experience what immunization could mean to people who really do not have the resources to pay hospital bills but yet, are more prone to diseases which can be prevented by just a shot. That’s how I developed a growing passion on how I could contribute to serving lives and reducing poverty through immunization services both in and out of the district where I worked. Since then, I have always strived for knowledge and strategies that can improve the everyday practice in delivering immunization services.
What steps did you take to become an immunization/EPI professional?
The steps include: Acquiring in-service trainings at the district level besides the community health practices during my undergraduate studies, frontline field epidemiology training, trainings on strengthening the health care system, data management and several online EPI trainings.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is being able to identify challenges around me, develop ideas and turn them into action that can go further to handle the challenge identified. In a project conceived by my peers and I which was funded by UNICEF, community health workers were trained and were able to carryout immunization activities in 11 health districts which really improved on coverage as many unvaccinated children and pregnant women were reached through this activity.
What is a lasting change you hope to see in your immunization program?
Community engagement and ownership of the immunization program is of great importance since this will ensure every child and pregnant woman is reached.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
In the area of immunization, achievement can be a bit challenging to measure but that not with -standing, the success story we had by the project we designed to pilot for 3 districts was funded, extended and implemented in 8 other districts in and out of the region is great achievement.
In your career, has there been a time when you had to make a critical decision quickly? How did you approach it? Who did you ask for help or advice?
Being a young graduate with no vision of working in the field of immunization yet was sent to work there, was somehow challenging to me. But because I saw the reality on ground and had to wear the shoes of those poor mothers and children, I had to quickly make-up my mind and seek for ways I can be of help to these people and the community as a whole. At that point in time, I had to turn to my district medical officer and other senior colleagues at the sub-national level for guidance and I also searched for other resources to capacitate myself. That is how I had lived to enjoy what I am doing till date.
In your opinion, what is the largest challenge EPI managers will face in the next 10 years, and what skills will EPI managers need to handle those challenges?
In the next 10 years, the communities will be at the epicenter for a more effective immunization program. The EPI managers will need to up grade themselves with digital skills as the world has become a global village, communication skills, improve on their leadership qualities and leave behind the “boss” mentality for a more favorable working environment and team work and also quickly adapt to new strategies with regards to the working context at the time.
Who is your role model, and why?
My role model is that very health worker there at the interior village who will not take a rest until all the antigens are delivered in her community, come rain, come shine and till the last child in that community received the required shot be because she knows the value of that shot.
View Martha Ndiko Ngoe's Boost profile and send her a message here.