In this spotlight series, we will feature members to highlight their accomplishments as immunization professionals and learn from their programs. This interview is with Jude Tuma,Technical Officer at World Health Organization Headquarters - Geneva.
What is your name, job title, and place of work?
Jude Tuma, Technical Officer, World Health Organization Headquarters - Geneva
What or who influenced you to become an immunization/EPI professional? In other words, why did you pursue this career?
Though my beginning in EPI was opportunistic, working in a country and seeing children sick and dying from diseases for which there are available vaccines but poorly distributed and utilized for the vaccination and immunization of children greatly impacted my desire to help.
What steps did you take to become an immunization/EPI professional?
Studying public health and researching on immunization coverage in developing countries then having the opportunity to support the polio eradication initiative in different countries. These gave me the prospective to become the professional I am today.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing children vaccinated and living a happy life with the opportunity to study and be educated.
What is a lasting change you hope to see in your immunization program?
Attaining high immunization coverage in general, for all vaccine preventable diseases, and polio eradicated.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
Discussing and learning from local leaders in Chad how immunization campaigns could be better organized and succeeding in organizing two quality rounds of campaigns to vaccinate and stop wild polio virus epidemic in 2012.
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?
Yes, the approach to the supplemental immunization activity 2012 in Chad had to be taken immediately. Seeing the urgent need to respond to the polio outbreak in the country and the need for a high quality campaign and given in was my first time in the country, I called the administrative and traditional leaders with the EPI team and asked them to explain the challenges they had with previous campaign and what needed to be done differently. We dialogue and I learnt from them and suggested what could be done differently. Our findings were presented to the coordination committee for immunization and it was endorsed. The country office then presented the approach to our bosses in AFRO and Geneva. They approved and funded immediately.
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?
Understanding the factions within the EPI program is paramount. These managers need to know the values, loyalties and the losses of each faction and how best to work within those confines for the benefit of the program. Secondly, funding for immunization activities in the developing countries will remains a major challenge for EPI managers. These managers need to understand how present this challenge (having a courageous conversation) on the need for funding preventive health to their political and administrative leaders in a convincing manner.
Who is your role model, and why?
Dr. Ben Nkwane. He started working with me at the beginning of my career, he saw something in me, believed in me and encouraged me to do even more for the polio eradication and the vaccination of children.
View Jude Tuma's Boost profile and send him a message here.