When I first learned about the United Nations system, I was enticed by the notion of working for a noble purpose while leading a career that is both fulfilling and professionally enriching. I grew up believing that everything I do should be useful to others. This guiding principle has always stayed with me, particularly since becoming a medical physician. My formative years growing up in the Philippines instilled in me the importance of proving your worth - not just by who you are but by what you are capable of doing, which is central to my work today.
I have been a Medical Officer with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) since 2005, which has brought me a great sense of personal gratification. My work allows me to develop my full potential as a medical professional through various continuing professional development opportunities. The diverse range of clients that I meet in our clinics also enables me to expand my knowledge and experience.
Since I joined UNMIL, I have been tasked with taking care of the specific needs of female staff due to my training as an obstetrician-gynaecologist. I have also had the opportunity to build on this experience by expanding my medical practice to include general medicine, infectious diseases and emergency care for all my patients. As a Medical Officer, I am also responsible for other practical elements such as clinic administration, programme planning and staff management, all of which contributes to ensuring that my skills as a medical practitioner are well-rounded.
Medical teams on the ground typically face many challenges in logistics, resources, training and even staffing, but it is imperative that we find a way to establish medical services that respond effectively to the needs of our staff. One of the greatest challenges I have faced in my entire medical career has been the Ebola Virus disease (EVD) pandemic, which has ravaged Liberia.
I was part of the frontline team who served to protect our staff and their dependents from EVD. During this period, we faced stress and uncertainty brought about by the threat of infection and stigmatization. We worked as a team to secure the necessary professional and technical support of the United Nations and its partner agencies, which enabled us to overcome the challenges and complexities in managing EVD cases. Concurrently, we worked together to develop a framework for a United Nations system-wide approach for Ebola response. This was an extraordinary time in my career.
After a decade of service assisting peacekeepers and peacebuilders with their medical needs, I am extremely proud of this achievement. I know from my experience in the field that even a small contribution, especially when combined with the effort of a team, can lead to significant results.