Beyond Boundaries: The Remarkable Journey of a Social Scientist in the Vector-Borne Diseases Landscape


This interview explores the remarkable journey of a social scientist, Ms. Christina Sudi, who transitioned into the role of Regional Coordinator for women in vector-borne diseases at the Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA). We delve into her academic and professional journey highlighting the unique combination of skills and perspectives she brings to the field of public health. Additionally, we highlight how she successfully navigates the intersection of social science, public health, and science. Our Golden Star shares valuable insights into effective interdisciplinary collaboration and discusses the challenges and opportunities she encounters in her role. She also sheds light on the importance of empowering women in science, advocating for diversity, and fostering inclusivity.

A Social Scientist's Journey – Navigating the Intersections of Science, Health, and Women's Empowerment. Can you share briefly your academic and professional journey as a social scientist and explain what drove you to your current role as a regional coordinator for women in vector-borne diseases?

I am a Social Scientist specializing in Community Development, with a dual focus on Environmental Planning. I hold two degrees in Community Development and have dedicated my career to contributing to various impactful projects across multiple sectors. Throughout my professional journey, I have had the privilege of working with esteemed organizations and companies such as Independent Television (ITV), Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) Tanzania, World University Service of Canada (WUSC), United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UN-ICTR), and US-Tetra Tech ARD. Currently, I am honored to serve as the Women in Vector Control Regional Coordinator for East Africa at PAMCA.

My expertise spans a wide range of sectors including Media, Education, Reproductive Health, Human Rights, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). This diverse experience has not only deepened my understanding of community development but also allowed me to actively contribute to positive change in these critical areas. Working with PAMCA has been especially rewarding, as it has allowed me to pursue my passion for empowering women. I am grateful for the trust placed in me by PAMCA, which has elevated me to a regional position. This role has enabled me to have a greater impact in the field of vector-borne disease control, emphasizing the importance of gender empowerment.

I firmly believe that the spice of life lies in embracing variety, and this principle is evident in my commitment to working across different sectors. By utilizing my knowledge and skills, I strive to create holistic and sustainable solutions that address the multifaceted challenges faced by communities. I am enthusiastic and envision contributing to initiatives that have led to championing women's empowerment through PAMCA's Gender Policy for inclusive plans, budgets, and activities. Together with our partners and colleagues, we are enacting a paradigm shift that is geared towards strengthening the role of women in the fight against Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD), enhancing their effective engagement and involvement in decision-making.

In what ways does your background in social science complement your work in the field of vector-borne diseases? Are there specific skills or perspectives from social science that you find particularly valuable in this context?

As a social scientist, I possess a versatile skill set uniquely tailored to delve into the intricacies of societies and human behavior. My expertise centers around employing techniques such as probing and observation to uncover underlying issues, demonstrating a profound understanding of the complexities that shape our communities. My strength lies in the art of engagement, encouraging participation, and collaboratively devising solutions. From meticulous planning and seamless organization to vigilant monitoring and evaluation, I navigate the entire process with a keen eye for detail. As a problem-solver, I excel at transforming challenges into opportunities, using various approaches to ensure success. My approach to situations is inherently positive, always equipped with a backup plan to adeptly navigate any hurdles and make things happen.

As someone with a social science background, how do you navigate the scientific landscape in your role? What strategies have you found effective in collaborating with scientists and researchers in the field of vector-borne diseases?

 In my role as PAMCA WIVC Coordinator, EA Region, I understand that teamwork and effective communication are of paramount importance when working alongside scientists and researchers. Within this dynamic environment, I recognize that teamwork is crucial for success as it ensures that each team member contributes their specialized expertise towards our common goal. This collaborative spirit promotes innovation and a shared commitment to achieving our objectives. Additionally, I prioritize clear communication as a key strategy in our collaborative efforts. By effectively conveying ideas, goals, and expectations, I strive to create a shared understanding within the team. This alignment is essential for ensuring that each team member feels a sense of ownership in our collective success. The synergy between teamwork and communication within the collaborative framework of PAMCA WIVC establishes a strong foundation for a successful and cohesive working relationship, driving our shared mission forward.

In your position as a coordinator for women in vector-borne diseases, how do you empower and support women in science? Are there specific initiatives or strategies you've implemented to foster inclusivity and diversity?

In my role as the WiVC Regional Coordinator at PAMCA, I am deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within the field of science. I advocate for inclusive and diverse strategies in all aspects of our work, including plans, activities, tools, and reports. Specifically, by focusing on supporting women in science, I am determined to ensure that our initiatives not only promote women's inclusivity but also work with men to support change as allies and agents of change. By fostering an environment that values and celebrates differences, I aim to empower individuals and create a space where everyone can thrive and contribute meaningfully to the scientific community. Through my efforts at PAMCA, I hope to set an example for the importance of diversity and inclusion, advocating for a future where these principles are not just recognized but deeply ingrained in systems and structures, thus creating an enabling environment.

How has your role evolved, and what personal and professional growth have you experienced as a result of working in this unique intersection of social science, public health, and science?

 I am sincerely grateful for the invaluable opportunity to work with PAMCA, an experience that has greatly contributed to both my professional and personal growth. The knowledge, skills, and expertise I have acquired during my time here have not only established me as an expert in my field, but have also significantly enhanced my confidence, presentation skills, and intercultural competencies. Collaborating closely with women across Africa has provided me with a unique perspective and a deeper understanding of the diverse cultural nuances within the continent. This exposure has not only expanded my horizons, but has also paved the way for my involvement at a regional level. I take pride in considering myself a true Pan-African, dedicated to making a meaningful impact through my actions and unwavering commitment to empowering women on a broader regional scale.

What advice would you give to other women aspiring to make meaningful contributions in interdisciplinary fields that are traditionally dominated by scientific disciplines?

 For women seeking success in interdisciplinary fields historically dominated by scientific disciplines, my advice as a social scientist focuses on empowerment, collaboration, and effective communication. Embrace your expertise in social science and recognize its unique value in enriching scientific discourse. Build a diverse network to access a variety of perspectives and expertise, which is crucial for making impactful contributions. Develop collaborative skills to foster harmonious teamwork across diverse fields. Master the art of communication between scientific and social science realms to effectively convey ideas. Stay informed and adaptable, keeping up with rapid advancements. Advocate for inclusivity and promote diversity within interdisciplinary teams. Seek mentorship from experienced individuals who have navigated interdisciplinary fields. In the pursuit of prosperity, let's shatter the constraints of social norms. Encouraging women to be proactive and versatile is not just a call to action, but a commitment to unleashing their full potential. Together, let's transcend limitations and create a future where women thrive beyond societal expectations.

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