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Monday, 12 December 2016

IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO CHINA, THESE ARE THE FIVE THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT CHINESE

If you create a sort of identity among your friends, it becomes hard to keep away from it. Your friends will always be expecting you to follow through with the routine. It hasn’t been any different since I came back from my recent trip to China. My friends have been ‘demanding’ for a blog about the trip and here we are.

If you are in my social media circle, you probably already know that I travelled to China early last month. In case you aren’t and you don’t know, I will bring you up-to speed.

I travelled to Nanjing, China on the invitation of China Pharmaceutical University to attend the 2016 International Forum for Pharmacy Students on the occasion of the Global Conference on Pharmacy Education and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

There are so many angles to the trip that I could write about; from the hustle of getting a visa to missing flights and to the extreme weather in Nanjing or the Chinese girls I crushed on.  For this particular blog, I will tell you about the five things that amazed me most about the Chinese.

1.      Most Chinese wear eye glasses: In schools in Uganda, wearing glasses is associated with being a bookworm, brightness in class and overall superior intelligence. In China though, it is the order of the day. Could it be because of the anatomical nature of their eyes? According to my guide Moselle, “Chinese children watch TV a lot growing and it affects their eyes.” 
Meet my guide, Moselle. She made sure I felt as comfortable as possible during my stay. Behind her are the class room blocks at China Pharmaceutical University.

2.      Humility and Courtesy: Chinese are the most humble and courteous people I have ever met thus far. From the old to the young, male or female, they will welcome you with a smile and bow down as a sign a respect. In our last night in Nanjing, we went to a karaoke show, and the “bouncers” weren’t any different in their humility. Compared to the night clubs back home in Uganda, this was refreshing.
After the Karaoke show.
3.      Chinese are very organised and obsessed with attention to detail. During the award ceremony, we were invited to the stage to receive our certificates. Guess what? The stage was marked with spots where each one of us had to stand to pose for camera. Who would have thought such a thing existed! Who in Uganda?
Awards ceremony. Can you identify me?
4.      Chinese really try hard to speak English. They do. They are the most enthusiastic people I have met when it comes to trying out a different language. It is fascinating. Well, Chinese-the language-is really complicated but I was able to pick up a word. Thank you is xièxiè.

5.      Innovation: During my four days’ stay, the key word on the lips of every pharmacy student and pharmaceutical company that presented at the forum was INNOVATION. Every research project of the students had an innovation component in it. Unlike in Uganda where universities don’t provide any significant support to student research projects, in China, the government and universities support students wholeheartedly. I think in a few years, Chinese will become the innovative people on earth (that’s if they are already not).
Poster presentation.
As a tradition in my travel blog stories, I always thank the organisations and persons who make the trips happen. I would like to thank International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), China Pharmaceutical University (CPU), International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) and my ever supportive dad.

A street in Nanjing.


Bird eye view of Nanjing from my hotel room.

Monday, 5 September 2016

HOW I WAS ABLE TO ATTEND THE 62ND IPSF WORLD CONGRESS IN ZIMBABWE


At the beginning of this year I told some of my friends that Zimbabwe was on the bucket list for the year. June, 2015 was when I first learned about the 62nd International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) World Congress (WC) that was held from 29th July to 08th August 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe from one of the WhatsApp Groups where I belong. The poster of the congress that was shared in the group showed a registration fee of 400 Euros. My first reaction? Your guess is right! “How the hell am I going to raise that amount of money, let alone air ticket fees which are almost twice as much?”

But after attending my first ever IPSF event in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2015; 4th IPSF African Pharmaceutical Symposium (AfPS), I got highly motivated to participate in the WC. The thing with IPSF events is that after attending for the first time, you always want to attend one after that and eventually, you just get addicted.

Staying optimistic though was a daunting task. I wasn’t certain I would raise the money. I didn’t know where to look for it. I didn’t even have a passport. First thing I did was to get a passport.

As it would happen, IPSF Development Fund (DF) in January 2016 made a call for the World Congress Grant which I successfully applied for. The DF thus paid for my registration fee. The next hurdle was the air ticket which thinned my hopes so much. . At some point I even started telling my friends that I won’t be able to travel; little did I know that God had a miracle in store for me. Two weeks to the WC, I got one of the best news of this year so far; Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU) approved my request to pay for my flight. Yeeeiii!!!

Participating in congress has been a lifetime experience for me. From the education and scientific symposia, politics in the General Assembly, workshops and to the amazing friends from all corners of the world that I met, I will live to treasure the experience for the rest of my life.

Evidence that I was there?

I made a presentation on Uganda Pharmaceutical Students Association (UPSA) which was accepted as a member of the federation. 

I also did a poster presentation of our final year project.


I thought I would be the only Ugandan at the congress, but I met this fellow countryman who school in UK. Meet my new friend Isaac Gidudu from Mbale.

New friends!
New friends!
In a special way, I’d like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the IPSF DF and PSU for making my dream to participate in the congress a reality. I hope that a pharmacy student in Uganda can get inspired and perhaps gets more motivated than I was to participate in international events of such nature and that PSU and other corporate organizations continue to support students on such levels.

Viva la pharmacie!!






Wednesday, 4 May 2016

HOW MAKERERE RUINED MY HANDWRITING



Early school life
My parents, former teachers and classmates have known me as a man of many good attributes. Most will probably tell you about my discipline, punctuality and most importantly my neat handwriting. I always was the student with the neatest handwriting in my class all through primary and secondary school. 

I was a model student when it came to organization of notes. You know that kind of student that would use a different color of ink for headings, trace maps during Geography classes, had margins in all his pages, carries mathematical set to every class­­­! That’s the kind of student I was.

Friends would miss classes and run to me first to copy notes from my book. See, even some of my teachers would borrow my notes.

University life
Many people told me about it but I thought it was just something to boast about like most medics do. Little did I know I would slowly lose one of the most important attributes I acquired in primary school. My ability to write neatly was slowly dying out! By the time I was hit with the reality, it was too late.

My signature hasn’t been spared either. Recently I wanted to withdraw money over the counter; and the transaction was invalidated because I couldn’t sign using the same signature I used to open my bank account. I have since been forced to change my signature to something simpler.

What went wrong?
The Student Directed Learning (SDL) system at Makerere University College of Health Sciences has played a significant role in the unexpected deterioration of my ability to write neatly. All the lecturer has to do is give an overview lecture about the course unit and the student is expected to go read more on their own.

Unlike medicine students who write a lot of clinical notes, we the pharmacy students hardly have much to write about in our clinical years. All the writing we do is limited to checking for medication errors, filling prescription log books, ordering for stocks and proper medicine use. 

There’s a tremendous amount of learning done using electronic media at the university, this is also partly to blame for the death of my hand writing. In an environment where the lecturer (If you’re lucky that he came and lectured) will electronically share the PowerPoint presentations; there is no need to keep hand written notes of the lecture. 

My dead handwriting will even “die further” if I happen to work in a hospital where all communication and record keeping are done electronically. Imagine a system of e-prescription, e-history taking, and e-lab requests etc. Working in industrial setting would resurrect though my handwriting. There is a lot handwritten documentation in pharmaceutical industries. 

At this point I would gladly advocate for the university to do away with handwritten exams. It would save my lecturers from struggling to read my not-so-neat handwritten essays. 

I am open to some form of rehabilitation to resuscitate my handwriting!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

IT WAS ALL ABOUT ‘THE DIFFERENCE’ AT MUPSA HEALTH CAMP 2015

Banner of the camp at Wakiso Health Center IV main gate.

The difference that we empowered the community with the skills and knowledge on how to use medicine well. That they will recover quickly from an illness because they would have used their medicine well. That they will know when to self-medicate and when not to. That they will avoid use of herbal and conventional medicines concomitantly .That they will be champions in their communities for in the fight against Anti-biotic resistance.

Mr. Kibowa Dick, General Duties Secretary at MUPSA taking about proper medicine use. Mr. Kibowa's command of Luganda is very impressive.

The difference that people tested for HIV and got to know their status. That the people who tested positive will start on anti-retroviral therapy earlier and hence prolong their lives. That the people who tested negative will remain negative because they got the knowledge on how to remain negative.
HIV testing session.

The difference that units of blood donated will one day save a life.

The difference that the women got free breast examination for breast cancer. That they got the skills of how to do self-breast examination. That they will seek medical help immediately they got to see signs of breast cancer.

The difference that we sensitized the community on cardio-vascular diseases (CVDs) like hypertension and diabetes and that they got their risks assed for CVDs. That a member of the community will not acquire diabetes because she knows the ways of preventing it.
A lady having her weight measured.
Mr. Anyase Ronald Amaza, Organizing Secretary at MUPSA counseling a member of the community on CVDs

The difference that our friends from Dental school educated the community on oral health hygiene.
A child having her teeth checked.

The difference that people that were screened for sickle cell disease, and that the screening that is usually shs.60, 000 was done for free.

On behalf of MUPSA, I would like to especially thank the following organizations and groups of persons who were very instrumental in making us create ‘the difference’.
  1. Leaders of Wakiso District.
  2. Management of Wakiso Health Center IV
  3. Abacus Pharma Ltd
  4. Rene Industries Ltd
  5. Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda(PSU)
  6. Eco Pharm Ltd
  7. Aga Khan University Hospital
  8. Kiyita Family Alliance for Development(KIFAD)
  9. Uganda Blood and Transfusion Service(UBTS)
  10.  Sickel Cell Association of Uganda(SCAU)
  11. Uganda Public Health Laboratory
  12. MEPI-CVD
  13. Volunteers from MUPSA, Schools of Medicine and Dentistry
Most importantly the community around Wakiso Health Center IV and beyond who heeded to our call and came in hundreds. We hope we made a difference in your health.
Members of the community waiting eagerly to be served.

Group photo of the volunteers together with MUPSA executives.

Time for selfie.
To the executive of MUPSA; you made sacrifices, showed dedication and above all demonstrated team work. I am proud of the difference we created.

PS. More photos from the camp can be found here https://goo.gl/u53GIJ

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

ON WRITING IN NEWSPAPERS


Growing up
My dad is obsessed (for lack of a better word) with newspapers. He buys, not just one, but all the three major newspapers in Uganda; New Vision, Daily Monitor and Red Pepper, on a daily basis for as long as I can remember. At our home we have a store in the house dedicated to keeping old newspapers and it’s almost sacrilegious to destroy old newspapers. As such I’ve grown up reading newspapers.

First time
The first time I appeared in a newspaper (I think) was late February or early March of 2010, in that media frenzy upon release of the results of the National Exams. Because my O’level result was excellent, at least according to New Vision, they came knocking at our home requesting to interview me. Did I turn down the interview? No, I didn’t; I accepted it with palpable excitement because of my dad’s insistence (The pride a father feels on reading about his son...) unfortunately he was cropped out of the picture when the article was published. The family was still excited though.

The thought 
With all that exposure earlier in my life, it was just a matter of time before I started writing in newspapers. The idea first came to my mind after publishing a couple of stories in this blog. I felt some of the stories ought to be published in a newspaper. I sent my first story in February this year. Boom! The story was published (I shared the news with my dad first)...and more have been published since then.

Behind the scenes
The interesting thing about all the stories published so far is how I get to know that they have been published. It’s only the people that picked interest in a story that bring to my cognizance almost a week later that it has been published. Take for instance; Daily Monitor published one of my articles on September 25th 2015, but it was only a week later when a reader sent me an email that I got to know it had been published.    
When you send a story to a newspaper, you don’t get any reply to whether your story has been accepted or not. There is a funny reply I get though (See screen shot below). You have no idea when your story shall be published.


I think newspapers editors are very busy people but I wish they can first find a way of acknowledging receipt of articles and secondly notify readers when it  is going to be/ when it has been  published. An auto reply to emails can do.

You want to read all the articles again? Here are the links:



"Every leader should be a writter"
 

Monday, 3 August 2015

WHAT I DID DIFFERENTLY WHEN I WENT BACK TO RWANDA FOR THE 4TH IPSF AfPS 2015

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you should probably know that I made my first trip to Rwanda in February. You can read the piece here.

I had planned to travel to Rwanda only once this year but events occurring between February and June made it inevitable for me to make a second trip.

The purpose of this second trip to Rwanda was to attend the 4th IPSF African Pharmaceutical Symposium (AfPS) 2015. IPSF stands for International Pharmaceutical Students Federation. The symposium, which was held at the headquarters of University of Rwanda in Kigali from the 9th-13th July 2015 under the theme, “Idealizing Pharmacy Profession by Promoting Research and Practice”, attracted over 300 Pharmacy students and Pharmacy professionals from east, west, south, and central Africa.

In order to make the trip and my stay more interesting and exciting, I made sure I did a few things differently this time round.

The Journey
Unlike in February when I travelled in the night, this time I travelled during day, therefore I got to appreciate the beauty of western Uganda more. And I also used a different bus service, Trinity express, which even turned out to be more comfortable (I forgot to take pictures of the interior of the bus) and the fare was shs.40, 000 only. It’s one bus that I would recommend if you’re travelling from Kampala to Kigali. At the boarder I used my recently acquired national ID.

I was the only Ugandan at the symposium
It wasn’t my making, that I would be the only Ugandan at the symposium; the rest of my colleagues couldn’t make it for various reasons.

My proudest moment: When I received the Uganda national flag. On my right is Ms. Ange Marie Uwase (chairperson of the symposium). On my right is Prosper Maposa ( Chairperson of IPSF Afro Region)
However being the only one representing Uganda, I made sure my presence was felt. I engaged a few delegates to find out what they knew about Uganda by asking them to tell me anything they knew about Uganda. I found the responses quite interesting.

Alice from Rwanda felt in love with our beautiful national flag.

“I know Eddy Kenzo, the guy who sang sitya loss”, said Francis from Ivory Coast.

Alain from Democratic Republic of Congo gave a similar response. In case you ever doubted the popularity of our very own Eddy Kenzo (BET winner), there you have it.

Jacobs and Mgambi from Tanzania told me they know of Zari. For my readers who may not have knowledge of Zari, she is a socialite in Kampala who is currently dating a Tanzanian musician called Diamond Platinum.

The most shocking response was by a lady from Kenya who told me with confidence that Makerere University is in Tanzania. She told me to hide her identity in this blog. Are you wondering how she came to that conclusion? 

“Julius Nyerere (former President of Tanzania) studied at  Makerere University, so Makerere University should be in Tanzania”, she confidently told me.

I forgave her for her ‘incorrect’ knowledge and I hope students from Makerere University who are reading this can also do the same.

Scientific Symposium
Several sub topics were discussed including: Antimicrobial Resistance; Patient-centered care and follow up;  traditional medicine and Non- communicable diseases (NCDs); research development, an area for improvement in Africa, counterfeit drug and health care outcomes, generic manufacturers versus branded manufacturers, global health perspective towards NCDs and  Innovations in health.

Sharing a light moment with Mr. Samuel Opio. He is the secretary of Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda. He gave a very captivating talk on Innovation. 
I made my presentation under the subtopic of innovations in health. My presentation was entitled, “Use of Social Media to Promote Health; Case Study of the Medical Concierge Group (TMCG)”. You can download the presentation here.

Social events
The symposium had several social events among others, international night, auction night, cultural night and gala night. Each country represented at the symposium was required to make a show of something about their culture; music, dance, drama or a simple talk.

Despite the fact that I was the only one from Uganda, I wasn’t exempted from performing in the international night.  With my undergraduate gown as my costume, I showcased the culture at Makerere University to the rest of Africa.


You can always trust the sharpness of Makereans.



Who told you Pharmacy students aren't good at dancing?


A skit by our host about the Rwanda Genocide.

I forgot the name of this popular Kinyarwanda dance. It's one where you swing your hands around,

I was also given the opportunity to host the IPSF white coat dinner and gala night.

Special thanks
I would like to specially thank the following people; my dad for funding part of the trip; Dr. David Musinguzi (Managing Director TMCG) for guiding me in making the presentation and Reception Committee (RC) of 4th IPSF AfPS.
            
The RC that was chaired by Ms. Marie Ange Uwase did exceedingly well in organizing the symposium.
Meet the stunningly beautiful Ms. Marie Ange Uwase. 


In the second part, read about our post symposium tour in the South West of Rwanda in Nyungwe National Forest Park.