Women are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields globally, but the situation is worse in Africa. Moreover, women in STEM fields face various challenges such as educational constraints, cultural and gender prejudices as well as stereotyping, which influences their opportunities and choices. As we celebrate June Youth Month, we traverse the African continent to profile women scientists and showcase their talents. Meet Christabel Phiri a medicine student from Zambia.
For Christabel Phiri, a young scientist from Zambia, studying medicine is an important goal in her life as she exhibits the valuable traits of self-discipline and is highly motivated. She is also focused on her career as it entails lifelong learning and demands that in order to reach one’s full potential, one must have the discipline to be able to keep studying. But the overriding factor for Christabel is the ability to help people in need of healthcare and to save lives. Her dispose as a team player is also an added advantage.
She is from the Copperbelt Province of Zambia and believes the future of Medicine is research. “I have a passion for reproductive health among the youth. I am currently involved in advocating for family planning, sexual and reproductive health with The International Youth Alliance for Family Planning – Zambia,” she points out in a profile for ‘Yes News’ – a newsletter for the young emerging scientists in Zambia. Christabel has also volunteered as a peer educator at youth friendly environments. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels and research articles, playing basketball and spending time with friends.
“I hold a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology and am currently pursuing a bachelors degree of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Zambia. The key to advances in Medicine and related fields is science-based evidence, patience to plod along through literature and the persistence to keep searching until one realizes that which is being sought,” she says. Christabel recently joined other youths from Zambia in a ‘Data Analysis and Manuscript writing boot camp.’ The boot camp delivered various outcomes for the diverse group of participants including training on how data should be analysed through practical sessions where participants had a chance to synthesise their own data and interpret it in front of an audience.
She says she gained a lot of skills and experience from this important exercise. As the world moves towards evidence-based medicine, the importance of producing quality and statistically sound research cannot be overemphasised. Evidence-based medicine aims to assess the strength of proof behind medical interventions in terms of risks and benefits, and therefore can be used to inform clinical decision making on both an individual and a population basis. As such, it is important for young people in Africa to be fully equipped with skills to participate in the evidence-based medicine space as this is crucial in maintaining quality medical care and ensuring good clinical outcomes.