In what can only be described as a challenging time for the Maltese Islands, as it is for many other countries across the globe who have been affected by COVID-19, public health has become more of a talked about issue than ever before.
To the general public, the Superintendent of Public Health, Professor Charmaine Gauci, who is also an Associate Professor at the University of Malta’s Faculty of Medicine & Surgery, has become a constant source of calmness, composure and reassurance.
Not only have her daily updates on the COVID-19 situation demonstrated her sense of professionalism, but for other UM women in STEM, she is managing to brilliantly rise to another occasion; that of representing them well, and by inference, encouraging more women to pursue a career in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries.
Here is what some of Prof. Gauci’s UM colleagues have told the Newspoint team:
Prof. Carmen Sammut, UM's Pro-Rector for Students & Staff Affairs and Outreach:
Day in day out, Prof. Gauci has become the face of the COVID-19 updates, but her responsibilities are far greater than what many assume. She is coordinating the national response team to the novel coronavirus and is in constant communication with international organisations like the World Health Organisation and relevant European institutions. She is lauded as a convincing leader in very difficult and unexpected circumstances. She has an ability to communicate with a wide audience and she has become an extraordinary role model for other girls and women who may wish to provide public service and follow the STEM subjects.
Dr Claudia Borg, AI Lecturer at the Faculty of ICT:
I have always admired Prof. Charmaine Gauci for her efforts to promote sexual health education in reasonable and clear terms. She was always steadfast and unwavering in her message. Today, she brings the same qualities and characteristics to the COVID-19 situation. Coming from an Artificial Intelligence background, people like myself can provide data and computational models tracking the virus. But it takes great strength, courage and leadership to turn that information into decisions and clear policy guidelines.
Dr Fiona Sammut, Head of Department of & Lecturer at the Faculty of Science:
Prof. Gauci is providing a sterling service to our country. Despite the uncertainty and challenges that we are currently facing, she manages to exude calm and reassurance during each of her press conferences. Inevitably, all this cannot be possible without her having a great team of persons backing her and who are also working non-stop for us all. Yet, only a strong leader can keep such composure given the pressure that she must be facing on a daily basis. I strongly admire Prof. Gauci, and I am sure that, she has become a role model and is inspiring many young girls and teenagers to take up a rewarding career in STEM in the future.
Prof. Therese Hunter, Associate Professor of Physiology & Biochemistry at the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery:
Prof. Gauci is the person currently holding the Maltese society together. She is doing this with great composure and professionalism that instils trust in those of us that are clinging to her every word. This reflects not only her evident expertise but also her inner strength, determination and compassion that I believe, also motivated the personal choices she made in her academic and professional life from a young age. Dr Gauci is a woman that aspires others and reinforces the essential role of women as leaders and caretakers of our society.
Prof. Janet Mifsud, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics Professor at the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery:
I have known Charmaine for several years and the person that the public now knows, is what we, as colleagues, have always known her to be. In her eagerly awaited daily briefings and advice to the policy makers, Charmaine shows that science can be imparted in a calm and easy-to-understand manner. She is the public face of a huge team of health care professionals in Malta (many female: lab scientists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists etc.,) who are working together with such commitment behind the scenes, to address this pandemic. Her calm manner validates that being assertive does not mean being aggressive.
Prof. Irene Sciriha Aquilina, Mathematics Professor at the Faculty of Science:
Prof. Charmaine Gauci is the pleasant face projecting Malta’s positive health policies. Her calm and assertive manners single her out as a leader. Her composure and quiet determination exude confidence and reassurance that, however bad the circumstances are, the situation is under control.