Her name is Florita Toa Sitobata and she hails from Boiboi village on East of Ambae.
Mrs. Sitobata is currently working as a nurse educator at Vila Central Hospital (VCH) after she graduated with a Masters of Applied Epidemiology at the Fiji National University (FNU) – the first Ni-Vanuatu female to achieve this.
“I was involved in a program of reporting syndromic diseases on a weekly basis while working at a provincial hospital and I was driven while working, especially when it came to detection of diseases, contact tracing and outbreak investigation,” she shared.
“I soon realized a need in the field of epidemiology, which led me to enroll in the course. With the training program from the South Pacific Community (SPC) which was accredited by the FNU, I was able to undertake the program.
“I successfully continued on with the postgraduate diploma and then admitted to the Master’s Degree Program.”
Sitobata said this field is very interesting as it relates to disease monitoring system. She is encouraging young people who are interested in health, health research, medical and public health to further their studies in undertaking the course of Applied Epidemiology. She emphasized Vanuatu requires more compass guidance from epidemiologists who can direct, guide, and execute practical, evidence-based initiatives for guiding decisions on health actions, policies and programs to improve health outcomes in Vanuatu.
“With the current pandemic situation, this field is vital for preparedness, responses and proper implementation to prevent COVID-19 in our country,” she said.
Sitobata took the opportunity to publicly thank her father, late Lloyd Toa, who inspired her to engage in further studies and her family for their positive support all throughout her course, the SPC and FNU facilitators. She also conveys her sincere gratitude to the New Zealand Government for the MFAT scholarship programme, as her main sponsor until the completion of her studies.