Skip to Content

GEMx Blog

Get to know Businge Alinaitwe

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Businge Alinaitwe

Post by Businge Alinaitwe a student on an elective exchange from Makerere University College of Health Sciences [NEPI] to Lusaka School of Nursing and Midwifery [NEPI]


Briefly about myself,

I am a Ugandan male, self-driven, motivated and interested in personal growth and development in all aspects of life including social, economic, interpersonal and professional growth. I love my family so much as well as engaging in business. Professionally, I am interested in delivering quality healthcare and I believe in the future I will be able to establish a quality ensuring health facility. I like soccer so much, being a Bayern Munich and German National team fan. I love engaging in athletics as well as adventuring. My Facebook name is Busi Mohbyl and on Twitter, I can be found at @busimohbyl.

As of now, I am really enjoying Lusaka for the people here are hospitable and loving. The weather is cool. The learning is good as the clinical instructors at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) are so much willing to teach and guide us. I am really so much privileged to have such an opportunity, thank you GEMx.

Businge Alinaitwe.

Smiling with colleagues


The 4 Amazing Weeks in Nairobi, Kenya

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Joachim Nsubuga Kikoyo

Post by Joachim Nsubuga Kikoyo, final year medical student from Makerere University Medical School.

I wake up, time check 7:46 AM, I know it’s a different morning, one that is starting the day that I am going to have the longest and funniest journey of my life. Deep into my heart, I sing, “I am going to have the most amazing time for the next month.” My name is Joachim Nsubuga Kikoyo, a final year medical student from Makerere University Medical School and this is my four-week experience in Nairobi.



Well anticipated, me and my colleagues including; Bitira Lyness, Wassajja John Bosco, Akanyijuka Abel, Mayindi Frank and Ebele Isaac Gift had already paid our bus tickets two days prior; so we are already at the bus station at 6:25 PM. Our luggage is packed and there we are, setting off at 7:09 PM.

Taking selfies on the bus

4 hours later, we are at the Uganda-Kenya border, cleared everything normally, but then one thing is messed up. Our bus has broken down. We are stuck for almost one and a half hours until we get back to the road. One good thing was that we got to have a wonderful view en route including the Naivasha Game Park, and Savanna Vegetation! It was some sort of a blessing. We however arrived and settled in Solomon plaza, in Kahawa Wendani in Nairobi.


I can’t completely describe the feeling, the wonderful environment, friendly people, the food, the glamorous weather, etc. To make this interesting, I will split this into parts.

a) Food

The food is not so much different from our food.  Just what we eat at home as snacks are what they actually eat as lunch, and supper. For example one can have a Chapatti (Chapo) with any sauce, beans, meat, etc. well they have lots of new foods I’ve never eaten, seen or even heard before, say for example; Ndegu, Mutura, and Mukimo


I always call these ‘tiny peas’. They almost have the same taste. They are greatly delicious especially when served with rice.

Ndengu “Tiny Peas”


Mutura dish

My favorite; I almost ate it every day. It consists of offal’s packed with minced meat and usually some fats. It is either fried or grilled and then served with salad or chili. The taste is confusing between offal’s and meat if you have ever tasted both separately.




Mukimo dish

A mixture of Irish potatoes, maize and pumpkin leaves that gives it the green color, all mashed together to form one solid chunk. The taste too is combinational, though the Irish potato taste is prevailing.


b) The people and the language

I can possibly say, Kenyans are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Not that I haven’t met all of them, but it gave me that ill feeling that I don’t usually act in the same way when other visiting international students come at Makerere. I mean, who stops and asks if you are lost; and then after directs you, where you desired to go.

One only challenge though is the language. Kenyans speak, mostly Swahili, English and some speak some Kikuyu and other native languages. It’s funny that I don’t speak Swahili yet I come from the great East African region that is thought to be speaking Swahili as a joint language. But anyway I labored to learn how to speak some including: How you would inquire about a price, Ordering some food, Asking for directions and of course How to greet I still got many friends though, including; Punam Raval Ajay, Brian M Mbogo, Vugutsa Magada, Daudi E Musokyi, Dennis Mukabati, Juliet Wanjiri N .

Joachim taking pictures with his colleagues

An interesting thing though is that people who speak English are often thought to have more money, “a rich kid.” When you are negotiating prices you will always be charged extra despite your resemblance to the natives if you can speak English.

On Sundays, I took off some morning hours to attend mass. The mass was amazing attending one in a new community. Everything was however normal since it’s the same procedure like one at home, just the language though.


c) Transportation

Well if you are from Kampala and you are used to the boda-boda guys; in Nairobi they are rare, if you are to get one, which is possible, they are a bit high at cost and usually not allowed in the city center. So you will probably enjoy their great matatus (taxis). One funny thing with them is that, if you are to board one of them (that is if you are lucky) it will feel like you are entering a club. The matatus have loud booming music, flickering lights, and a large TV set in the front. The ride is inexpensive as a 2 km distance can cost you as low as 10KSHS.

d) Prices

The standards of living in Nairobi are kind of higher than that in Kampala. It’s worse if you don’t know where to buy the cheaper stuff if you can’t speak Swahili and worse if you are bargaining in English. So if you have a Kenyan friend, stick to that one, he/she will probably save you.

e) The Weather and Climate.

Not so much from the one in Kampala, its rainy season in June and so in Nairobi. It’s too cold, you will probably consider coming with winter clothes to be on a safe side.

f) Sports and Leisure.

A lot of sports activities exist at Kenyatta University; Soccer, Hockey, Basketball, Handball, etc. The sport I am interested in is soccer. It is fun to play around with my Kenyan brothers, even when communication skills are poor. At least you can use sign language or even struggle to shout Swahili words, but anyway, the major thing is I enjoyed playing soccer.


Kenya organizes their health system in a stepwise manner so as complicated cases are referred to a higher level i.e. from level 1 (Community Level) to level 6 (National Referral Hospital).

I was stationed at Kiambu Hospital, a level 5 facility, with almost all facilities to manage most of the conditions in Kiambu County of Kenya. I was rotating in Pediatrics and it consisted of three wards; Newborn unit (NBU), Ward, 1 and Out-patient Department. I decided to rotate in each of these wards weekly.

a) NBU

NBU Facilities

Not so much different from the one in Mulago, with nearly all facilities, with a good sense of organization and yeah the crying cute little ones who I loved to be around with. One other thing though, it’s kind of too hot in there, so it was usually my safe haven for the freezing cold weather during that week. At NBU, that’s where I got to be taught by Dr. Mugane a neonatologist, who took me through the common conditions managed at their unit and how and they are handled.



b) Ward 1

Doctors from Ward 1

The ward consists of the resuscitation area, the acute respiratory emergency management, and others. One specific thing, however, is that I was lucky to be taught by the pediatrician, Dr. Grace Akech Ochieng, a consultant pediatric cardiologist, who took me through the echocardiography. I learned how it is taken, read, and interpreted. It was my first time seeing one be done.

 The Medical Camp

This involved boarding buses to Isinya in Kijiado County, South of Kenya at a children’s center (Brydges center). It involved examining the kids, providing them with prophylactic treatment and distributing hygienic supplies. It was fun to hang around small kids even when I know we can barely communicate.


My colleagues and I got to visit the only game park in the capital of the nation.  This involved sight and sound of different animals, trees, the river and the people. Though it is not my first time to see animals like the ostrich, hippopotamus, hyena, buffalo, crocodiles, and many others, it was however too long since I last saw any of them. I guess my last time was when I was 8 or 9 years old. The best part of all of the tour was being able to hang out with the newly acquired friends and enjoying every moment of it.


I hate goodbyes, but unfortunately, that’s life! Everything has a beginning and an end. It was the end of the four weeks; I knew this would be hurting to leave. So I had to say the hard words. Even though I know I will see them again.

The picture with the GEMx team


Get to know: Imelda Namatovu

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Imelda standing in front of the airplane.

Post by Imelda Namatovu, a student from Makerere University College of Health Sciences [NEPI]  on an elective exchange to Lusaka School of Nursing and Midwifery [NEPI] 

The cyclical patterns of audacious curiosity and dogged determination have constituted the last two decades of this maze, I call my life. For an African girl who has been raised in deprivation of opportunities to dream big as well as bring her dreams to life, it is my pleasure to confidently say it is never about society but arduous nature of the person in you. This get-up-and-go has further driven me to ends many never thought I could stretch. Pursuing the Nursing profession has unbolted all doors to my career goals. My interest in Nursing research and teaching is growing untamable as well.  I enjoy watching soccer, teaching and singing is my most treasured hobby. Coming from a relatively smaller highly populated country (Uganda), my experience in Lusaka (Zambia) has been a totally different one. Being a large country with a relatively smaller population, I have met a number of very warm and welcoming people who are willing to spare time to teach us as well as make us feel at home. Despite the comparatively cold weather, Lusaka has been a wonderful discovery in my life. It has been wonderful experiencing a different culture while learning from another health care system as well as expanding my career network and professional aptitude.

Imelda standing with her colleagues


Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network

Aarinola Blessing

Post by Aarinola Blessing an outgoing 2 year termed SAN from  Obafemi Awolowo University College of Health Sciences participating in CICoM (International Medical Knowledge Contest).


On 10th Nov. 2016, I embarked on an amazing and rewarding journey to Mexico City alongside five other undergraduates of my University and the Dean of my Faculty( our GEMx Manager). The trip took a whole week. We had earlier been invited to participate in the 3rd International Context of Medical Knowledge(CICoM 2016) organized by Facultad de Medicina of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico that had representatives from over thirty Universities all over the world in attendance. Countries represented included Netherlands, Colombia, Chile, Nigeria, and Mexico, meaning we were the only African nation invited for this competition.

This blog post will address different aspects of my trip to Mexico.

Aarinola Blessing with her two colleagues

Being in Mexico for the first time

We were cheerfully received at the Benito Juarez Airport by Angelica Lopez who drove us to Brenda’s house. Brenda(the Co-ordinator) and her sister were so excited to meet us and made our first night in Mexico memorable. We met Pablo Perea the next day who happened to be our tour guide and also a GEMx Student Ambassador. Pablo was a very friendly, interesting and versatile person. He obviously knew a lot about the history of his Country, an attribute of his I particularly found worthy of emulation and which no doubt greatly facilitated his role as a student Ambassador. We felt so much at home being in the company of homely people. Mexicans say” Mi casa es su casa meaning “my home is your home”. The language, of course, was intriguing to me. I taught Pablo a little of my native language, Yoruba like ”Padi mi” meaning “my guy” which he calls me anytime we chat and he also taught me some Spanish of course like “Hola”,”Buenos” and “Bien”. The rest were written on my notepad for reference in case I needed to speak Spanish during the trip. I indeed struggled with the food in Mexico being considerably new to my taste and suffice to say that Mexicans are proud of their famous tacos and can talk you into eating different servings of it with them while they also constantly keep asking what you think about it. I did try some dishes like the Mexican rice, chicken, and chips because they weren’t entirely new as other dishes in their cuisines. We would joke with them that they had cheese in every food like eating cheese in cheese. The worth of commendation is that the Mexico flag was almost everywhere we went to.

Shrimp dish with cheese

The Cultural Exchange

The first two days were set aside for cultural exchange during which we visited the Teotihuacan, the Palace of Medicine, Palace of Arts, the Downtown and the Latin American Tower. We were grouped into different groups which also afforded us the opportunity to interact with other students during the tour with Pablo as the tour guide of my group. On the 3rd day, Justin Seeling and Anna Iacone were around to talk about GEMx and I was opportune to meet them. Pablo and Fuen also made their wonderful presentations that same day.


The Competition

The competition was no doubt eye-opening for me, the other students from my University and our Dean. Even though our aim to win wasn’t fulfilled but we were fulfilled having attended because we planned to win the contest. We were exposed to what investigations some countries consider as the first line and different guidelines employed in treating patients. I found the interaction and brainstorming in the same room with students from different countries fun. While interacting with Benjamin from Chile, I got to know that Chagas disease which I had only read in textbooks without a full grasp of it was endemic in his Country. He took time to expatiate the details of the disease. I also lectured him on Malaria and its complications which is no doubt the most endemic illness in Nigeria and most of the remaining countries in the tropics. Also, we participated in different workshops during our stay. I participated in the basic surgical workshop where I was taught basic surgical skills, the use of which I employed during my first basic surgical skills class when I was back in Nigeria and of course I was faster than some of my colleagues because I had done it before. On the last day of the competition, we were dressed in our native attires. Everyone was so excited to see us in our outfits, that we almost got tired of taking pictures at some point. We also had souvenirs from other countries like the Dutch candies from the Netherlands and the Colombia coffee. We were also taken on a tour around the University where there was a story to tell about how each building was built. The party held after the event was of course fun during which I learned to do the Salsa dance.  It was largely an exciting outing that leaves so much to be remembered about.

Everyone in their cultural attire.

Our Departure

My group in the company of guys from the Netherlands with Pablo as our guide visited the National History Museum, Chapultepec on our departure day.  We finally took off from Mexico to start our 23-hour long trip back to Nigeria on the 19th Nov 2016.


Attending CICoM 2016 was a major milestone for me in different areas of life with so many lessons gleaned from it. For instance, in terms of the exposure, knowledge of medicine, life, relationship with people, getting things done even when they look challenging and sharpening my leadership and communication skills. I will always treasure every moment and every friendship made.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience!



The Beautiful Art that is Medicine

Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network, GEMx Student Reflections

Josefa Santa Maria

Post by Josefa Santa Maria, a student ambassador from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Escuela de Medicina who has completed an exchange at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Facultad de Medicina.

My GEMx Ambassador Experience: Exchange in Medellin

During the period that I worked as an ambassador for GEMx, I had the opportunity to participate in many activities, from virtual meetings to lunch with the dean of the faculty. However, probably the one that I will remember the most will be my Emergency Medicine elective in Medellin, Colombia.

One of the reasons why I applied to be an Ambassador for GEMx, is that I consider the values in medical education as something that transcends the geographical barrier, and the exercise of this in other countries (even in another city) is an enriching experience both academically and humanly speaking.

My personal experience doing the elective of Emergency Medicine at the Pontificia Bolivarian University in Medellin, Colombia, is something that I will definitely turn into one of my most precious memory. It was a great challenge (and I have to admit that I was even a little scared) to leave my comfort zone and to do part of my internship in a foreign country: everything was different: the schedule, the food, the academic requirement, the way of teaching, the responsibilities with patients, the shifts, and even though the language was Spanish all the same there were local words and expressions that took me a long time to understand, but none of that was an obstacle to get to the hospital every day with a big smile and my maximum enthusiasm to learn.

Posing in front of buildings

One of the things that I liked the most was the warm reception I received from my intern colleagues, the doctors and especially the patients, who always asked me where I came from, and how did I feel living in Colombia, on many occasions I had very interesting conversations with them. They were always very happy and grateful for the attention I gave them, that was something that definitely left my heart full. In addition to having theoretical seminars every day and all the learning I got from each clinical case in the emergency service, my elective in Colombia allowed me to experience the diversity of the gastronomic culture of the area, to do tours around the city, in which I learned from the history and tradition of the neighborhoods of Medellin, and visit the nearby towns, where I  could enjoy wonderful landscapes.

Standing next to art mural

All in all, the 4 weeks I spent in Colombia helped me grow in different dimensions, both personally and academically. They helped me to be more independent, to improve my ability to adapt, to relate to different types of patients, and last but not least, to learn more about the beautiful art that is Medicine.

A message to the SAN network

Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network

Post by Rhea Anna Kurian, GEMx Student Ambassador for Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College. Her two-year term as student ambassador officially ends on July 20, 2018.  

Hello my fellow SAN members!

This is Dr. Rhea Anna Kurian, from MOSC Medical College, Kolenchery, Kerala, India and a proud member of the GEMx SAN. For a medical student like me who belongs to a medical school in a rural area of India, the opportunities that GEMx had provided were probably the best I could get as an undergraduate.  Of all that GEMx has offered me as an ambassador, my student elective in Israel is the most important and memorable one. I was blessed to have had a chance to spend one month (November- December) in the Internal Medicine department of Soroka Medical Centre, Beersheva, Israel under Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

Dr. Lior Zeller, Head, Internal Medicine Department C, Soroka Medical Center, Israel

All three of us who did the elective together were guided well by the Gemx officials and the Gemx representatives at Ben Gurion and of course by our Gemx coordinator, Dr.Anna Mathew. We were allocated the best unit of internal medicine at Soroka, Pnimit Gimmel. Dr. Lior Zeller, the Head of the department, other doctors, residents, interns, students and the nursing staff were very helpful. Although we could not understand the language (Hebrew and Arabic), everyone in the department made sure that they translate it to us and make us understand, through all the ward rounds, meetings, and lectures.

It was also a great opportunity for us to know about the patient population, health conditions and medical practices in Israel and to understand how different it is from our country. The computerized documentation at the hospital was very new to us as we still use papers for documentation in our home country. We got to observe many procedures done in the ward. We also attended the rheumatology OPD of Dr. Lior which was conducted once a week.

With Dr. Mark Clarfield, (Director of Medical School for International Health at Ben-Gurion and a member of the GEMx advisory committee)

We were lucky to meet Dr. Mark Clarfield, (Director of Medical School for International Health at Ben-Gurion and a member of the GEMx advisory committee) and to spend an evening with him. Of course, student exchange programs are not just about spending time in the hospital premises. It is also about exploring the country you are in. We had the opportunity to visit a few places in Israel, like the Old City of Jerusalem, The Dead Sea, Haifa etc.

Dr. Ali, Resident, Internal Medicine Department C, Soroka Medical Center, Israel at the Sea of Galilee

As a whole, those 30 days in Israel gave me the best memories I would cherish forever. It definitely gave us a peek into what global medicine is about and that is something a medical student would definitely benefit from. If you get an opportunity to take up an elective, never ever lose it. It is definitely worth a try!










Eric and Aline’s Elective Exchange to Uganda

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

NIZEYIMANA Eric and AKAYEZU Aline, 5th Year Medical Student from University of Rwanda. We completed GEMx Exchange on Family Medicine at Makerere University 


Eric and Aline on the way toward Makarere University for Elective

Our hearts were very full the first time we received an email confirming that we were chosen to be a part of this amazing elective. The Family Medicine is not yet initiated in Rwanda health system. This was a golden opportunity to learn more and bring back a package of knowledge to share with our colleagues.

It is the dream of every Medical student to do an exchange outside of their usual setting so that they work in another healthcare system to learn and have a different experience that’s why I can’t hesitate to say this was our turn to realize our own.


Eric, Ms. Phionah and Aline at Makerere University









Our journey took 718 km2 from Kigali-Rwanda to Tororo-Uganda training center in Uganda, where the training about family medicine took place.  Arriving at MAKERERE University, we met  Ms. Phionah, the international students’ coordinator at this university. With warm welcomes, she gave an explanation about the exchange and introduced us to the rest of the team.

It was a great experience to travel the long distance on a bus. It was the first time, we took the time to observe the Uganda country, environment, and appreciate how well it is.


During our elective, we stayed at the Crystal Hotel. The hotel was close to the hospital. It was safe, comfortable and calm when you were studying. They had all kind of foods and it was delicious.


Eric and Aline at Crystal Hotel

The hotel was close to the hospital. It was safe, comfortable and calm when you were studying. They had all kind of foods and it was delicious.


Our 2nd day in Uganda was for the introduction to family medicine and orientation at training center, Tororo district hospital. We met with Dr. George Welishe and Dr. Okuuny Vincent, the senior consultants in Family Medicine who greeted us with warm welcomes. We had a  tour of whole hospital, introducing us to all departments of the hospital. We visited patient hospitalization wards, general theater, labor and administration offices &staff, emergency ward, HIV patients department and antenatal and family planning services. Everyone was happy to host us and we were also happy to be among them and excited to be in different healthcare settings. It is a large district hospital, which has many departments.

Eric, Aline, Dr.Okuuny and Dr.Maria (intern from Italy)

The daily schedule was made by morning staff meeting which was followed by ward round, theater, or labor or other department visit in the hospital.

1.Morning staff meeting

Every morning we have presentations on the topics that we were given on schedule. The topics that was chosen by trainers according to two conditions: 1.The most common cases in medical career related to the family medicine in which they think that will be useful to us along our internship and medical career. The second condition is the cases that are mostly found in Uganda healthcare setting especially in Tororo district hospital.  . Under consultant supervision, we had discussions in which they taught us on both our presented topic and presentation skills.

 2. Hospitalization Patients, Internal Medicine wards round

Aline, Eric, with Family Medicine Post-graduates Dr.francais and Dr.Christine on right and word round team on right

We had a daily attendance of ward round with the rest of the team which was made by family medicine consultants, family medicine postgraduates, nurses, and other medical doctors. I gained more experience in patient clerking and presenting during this activity and from this I understood that medicine is the same all over the world because it was very exciting to be able to make a diagnosis for a patient from another setting and participate in patient management by the same knowledge.

This ward round also emphasized on bedside teaching according to the case as long as also that most of the attendants were students. This was occupying a big part of our exchange where we learned much as found more cases that we didn’t see in our healthcare setting. Here I can list sickle cell diseases associated with malaria which is more common in the pediatric setting here, sepsis secondary to septic abortion, HIV and TB were more frequent in general wards especially in young people. We have seen some special cases like Asthma attack, dog bite, and pregnancy on sickle cell disease.

We learned from all the cases and were involved in their management process. We can confirm without hesitation that we are confident in managing patients.

3. Gynecology and obstetrics department

Eric using fetoscope

This was another interesting and productive service that we rotated in. The main objective was to know what services they deliver and get experiences in them as a future clinician and the objective was achieved. The major services that we provided were TORCH screening (toxoplasmosis, other, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex/HIV)  and counseling on results, Prevention of Mother to child transmission of HIV, Family planning, Immunization, Examination of pregnant mothers to assess for any complications that might arise during pregnancy.

We experienced also on the procedures done included vaginal examination, head to toe examination focusing on the abdomen for the pregnant mothers to check for the fetal heart rate through the use of the fetoscope. The LEOPOLD Maneuver like palpation of the abdomen to check for the lie, presentation, and engagement of the fetus. Not only this but also in labor they taught us, conducting spontaneous vaginal delivery, neonatal examination, and resuscitation for the newborn with fetal distress and other complications.

We enjoyed the rotation since we could learn more from each other through discussion of patient’s condition and be sharing an idea with the rest of the team which was mostly made by midwives.

4. HIV patients clinic

Eric (left) and Aline *right in HIV clinic consultation

In all the time we work at Tororo district hospital, we rotated also in HIV clinic. The services provided were history taking and physical examination for HIV patients to access drugs adherence, new HIV diagnosed patients counseling, viral load monitoring and shifting of patients from drugs line to another.

Of course, as a referral hospital, the number of attendants was big, At the time we helped around 80 patients and surprisingly the 2/3 was women and reason was that of the polygamy culture in Tororo community which makes the prevalence of  the HIV infection to rise in women than in men


We met friends and we made friendships, we learned much from each other and we made strong networks. Finally, we had fun.


Together with family Medicine post-graduates having fun

Four weeks at the Tororo district hospital for family medicine was productive beyond our expectations. Along all time, rotating in different departments we gain many skills in Family Medicine, the way it works and the services it provides. As long this specialty is not yet initiated in Rwanda health system, I hope to share with my colleague medical students, and other health professionals this skills or others who will be interested in family medicine. In addition to this, we gained also more about presentation skills.

The knowledge gained includes patient history taking and physical exams to list differential diagnosis, appropriate patients management, conducting a normal lobar and c/section delivery. Antenatal care includes Leopard maneuver and use of fetoscope and management and follows up of HIV patients.


All the time we spent in this amazing elective, the main challenge we meet is the languages. After arriving in the Tororo town, we have found that they are more local different languages spoken in the community which account more than 5 which also is related to different tribes with a different culture. This has brought some limitation during patients caring especially in history taking and management, explanation on medication taking and patient diseases education.  So to handle this, we used to organize a team during ward round such that there is one health care provider who speaks both English and one of the local languages so that he/she will translate.

The other challenge we met was to work in low facilities hospital where some materials were not available especially medications and septic environment, which was a barrier in patients treated and also we thought it could be a source of spreading diseases among hospitalized patients. To handle this will need multidisciplinary involvement including Minister of Health in Uganda and other health institutes but we did some advocacy about the problems.


Dr. Cecilia and Enrica (left)

Of course, learning is a continuous process, but in this elective, the first thing I learned is that every healthcare professional can deliver the health services to the community according to his or her level.

The 2nd lesson is that working in limited health facilities can be challenging in the medical career while you were delivering health services but it’s good and important to adapt and use the few we have effectively to help the patients

The 3rd lesson, learning from each other and sharing information and respecting each other is most important in terms of both helping patients and teaching during health care services delivered.

The 4th lesson is As a student I got a lot about professionalism at work during this elective at Tororo district Hospitals. The healthcare professionals were having a positive attitude of medics towards students and their work made me enjoy my stay and practice as a student there.


We want to express my sincere gratitude thanks to the executive committee of GEMx represented by Carol Noel Russo, GEMx Regional representative in Africa Faith Nawagi, the host coordinator at MAKERERE UNIVESITY Mrs. Phionah and my university of Rwanda GEMx coordinator, Dr. UWINEZA Annette and everyone who contributed to making this elective happen

It great pleasure to thank all confident you hard toward us and offer this opportunity in which we learned much skills and experience and all your commitment and effort you made to create a way so that the elective on Family Medicine at Makerere university lead to success.

Special are destined to our trainers, senior consultants in Family Medicine at TORORO District hospital, Dr. Welishe George and Dr. Okuuny Vicent with the rest of the team who showed strong commitment to teach us as much they can, we really highly appreciate their motivation and strategies they use during training  health professionals and I wish they could spread that attitude among the rest healthcare professional trainers around the world.




Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Post including excerpts of a report by Geoffrey Mphatso Kwabena Wiafe, who recently completed an Ophthalmology elective at the University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya –a GEMx facilitated College of Ophthalmology of Eastern Central and Southern Africa  (COECSA) Regional Exchange. 

The University of Nairobi is located in Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya. The University of Nairobi started postgraduate training in Ophthalmology in 1978 under the Department of Surgery. Ophthalmology became an independent department in 1990. The department has trained over 159 Ophthalmologists from 1978 to date. The teaching eye clinic is housed by Kenyatta National Hospital and there are various sub specialties including Glaucoma, Oculoplastics, Vitreo-retinal and Anterior Segment which I benefited from during my one month elective period.

Geoffrey examining a patient using an indirect ophthalmoscope

I am very fortunate to be one of the students from my University to be involved in the GEMx Elective program. Being a part of the exchange has further boosted my interest in sub specialties like Oculoplastics and Vitreo-retinal surgery.

The first half of my elective period was primarily spent at the sub specialty clinics, where I had the opportunity to see a wide variety of interesting cases including Aponeurotic Ptosis, Congenital Glaucoma, Choroidal Detachments and Central Serous Chorioretinopathy (CSC). I was also given the opportunity to take patient’s history, examination, and work up. Then, I presented some of the cases to the consultants and they gave me a better understanding of the diagnosis and how to manage those conditions.

I also had the privilege of learning and participating in the screening of Retinopathy of Prematurity, which made me more confident in not only the use of an indirect ophthalmoscope but examining neonates.

The last week of the elective took place in the clinic and operating theatre. Spending time in the operating theatre, I was able to observe for the first time the surgical repair of a retinal detachment. I also observed Laser surgery (photocoagulation) and vitrectomy surgery.

During my elective period I was also fortunate enough to have attended a few lectures on approach to management of Glaucoma and Glaucoma surgery and complications by Professor Damji. I also gained more insight on interpretation of visual fields and optic coherence tomography findings.

Dr Teddy, Dr Muchai (VR Surgeon) and Geoffrey

In general, the elective as a whole was a great experience. Both the consultants and residents were always ready to assist in whatever way possible to make our stay in Nairobi a memorable one. Towards the end of the elective I was certainly more confident and had a much better understanding of the management of several conditions.

Ophthalmology is an extremely rewarding and dynamic field of medicine. This elective gave me the opportunity to acquire more theoretical and practical examination skills. I look forward to using these skills during the rest of my training and career as an ophthalmologist.





Global Educational Exchange in Medicine and Health Professions for the elective opportunity.

College of Ophthalmology of Eastern, central and Southern Africa for funding and organizing.

Ophthalmology Department, University of Nairobi for providing multiple learning opportunities.

Kenyatta National Hospital for providing multiple learning opportunities.

Ophthalmology Department, Mbarara University of Science and Technology for allowing me to undertake this elective.

GEMx Exchange to UKZN

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Nancy Binsari and Tendwa George, 5th year medical students from Kenyatta University who’ve completed an exchange at University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).

Tendwa and Nancy smiling

Tendwa and Nancy ready to go on their exchange


This elective is an opportunity to find out more about yourself and what you want to do in the future. The elective allows you to explore a particular area of medicine or something different, such as research or teaching.

The two of us were selected to participate in the elective term through the GEMx program. Our home school, Kenyatta University was enrolled into this program through the regional platform in Africa for the first time in 2017. Being the pilot group, we were privileged to get a chance to participate in our elective at our host school UKZN (University of KwaZulu Natal) at Wentworth Hospital. Two of our other colleagues also participated in the GEMx program, and were sent to Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda to the cardiology centre.

We had 4 weeks of rotation in the department of Family Medicine in Wentworth hospital, one of the hospitals for UKZN clinical rotations. Family medicine, formerly “Family Practice” is a specialty devoted to providing comprehensive health care for patients. Family medicine is a three-dimensional specialty, incorporating knowledge, skill and process.

Dr. Mergan Naidoo, the head of department of family medicine at UKZN was our contact person and took us through the orientation at the hospital as well as our clinical rotations in our various sections. With the aid of a well-put logbook, Dr. Mergan Naidoo took us through our objectives for the clinical rotations and also guided us on a quality improvement project that we undertook during our stay at the hospital.

4 people standing and smiling at the Department of Family Medicine

Tendwa, Nancy, Dr. Naidoo and Kenneth at the Department of Family Medicine

Week 1: Out Patient Department (OPD)

Our first week was in the outpatient department (OPD) which is divided into the chronic and acute sections. In the acute section, we clerked patients and presented to the senior doctor in charge, Dr. Oyebola who guided us and corrected us accordingly. We had an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the South African guidelines on management of common conditions of patients in the OPD. We were able to experience a variety of conditions and were tasked to identify or at least make out the differential diagnosis of the presenting complaints.

Of the patients seen, a majority suffered respiratory diseases with TB and community acquired pneumonia leading. We also noted that the country had a large burden of HIV and it was therefore not a surprise that it was in the background in most of the TB infections. We were provided with masks to prevent acquisition of TB in patients. Other conditions we encountered in the OPD were hemorrhoids, gastroenteritis just to mention a few.

Week 2: Accident and Emergency  

Nancy and Tendwa standing in front of Accident/Emergency Department

Nancy and Tendwa outside the accident and emergency department.

The second week of our elective term was at the Accident and Emergency department. This was under the supervision of many doctors. Our task here was again to see patients and clerks, suggest investigations and come up with a management plan. We would then present this to the doctor on call as well as the intern doctor for approval of our approach and advice on what we missed out on. This turned out as a very good way of learning as sometimes they pointed out that we have the theoretical knowledge but need to put more practice into applying it to the patient and seeing them as a whole. We were trained to act like investigators and see beyond what the patient is saying. It was quite interesting because no matter how busy the floor got, the doctor’s would never rush us both in clerkship and in presenting to them. We got really good insight on what it means to be part of a health team and experienced what role we had as doctors.


Week 3: Acute Admission Ward

During our third week we rotated in the acute admissions ward. This is where all acutely ill patients admitted from Accident and Emergency department are transferred for high care and monitoring till they are stable enough to be discharged or transferred to other medical facility or surgical wards. It is during this rotation that we familiarized ourselves with the protocols and guidelines of South Africa for the management of acutely ill patients during the acute phase.

Week 4: HIV Clinic

We spent our final week in Wentworth hospital was spent in the HIV clinic. Here, we learnt under the supervision of Dr. Ryan, we saw newly diagnosed patients as well as follow ups and got to experience first-hand the countries’ way of combating the high levels of HIV infection in the area.

A thorough examination of the patient was also well covered to examine symptoms the patient brought up as well as anything they would have missed e.g. skin rashes or mouth lesions. The consultation would end with the patient understanding all the information being presented and patients were asked to come back for another visit. We had to update them with a full summary of what was discussed in terms of patient health and progression or regression of HIV.

Tendwa and Nancy have masks on their faces

Tendwa and Nancy at the HIV clinic


One of the challenges was the language barrier. It was difficult to communicate with some patients who could only express themselves fully in Xhosa or Zulu. To combat this challenge, the doctors and nurses went out of their way to translate whenever possible and give us English speaking patients to clerk.


1) We would like to thank Dr. Titus Kahiga for his exemplary role in making our exchange possible. He conducted regular meetings with us, guided us every step of the way, and took great measures to ensure we gain the most out of the experience. He acted as a link between us students, the university and the GEMx program. We are not sure that if we were under anyone else our exchange would have even been possible.

2) We would also like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Faith Nawagi. She was always present to respond to questions and concerns right from the first day we began the journey. She was always efficient in communication channels and would reply to emails within a very short time. This helped us with our planning and preparations. We are positive that the program will see greater heights with her commitment and passion for the students.

3) We extend our hearty gratitude to Professor Mergan Naidoo. The professor provided very good mentorship right from the planning phase to the end of our exchange. He also made time for regular interactions to address any concerns we may have had. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Mr.Ifukho, Mr. Vincent and the projects team in Kenyatta University as well as Ms. Anitha from UKZN. They were quite helpful in the processing of required documents both for visa applications and for exchange purposes.

4) We would like to thank the individuals who stood out in our elective term. These individuals managed to take time for us students and gave us an exceptional learning experience.  The staff’s enthusiasm and warmth remains entrenched in our memories as well as their motivation to providing us with a good amount of knowledge. These people include Dr. Ayubola, Dr. David, Dr. Daniels, Dr. Mbaiza, and Dr. Ryan.

5) Our sincere gratitude to the office of the Dean at Kenyatta University school of Medicine and our Dean Prof. Agina for ensuring we had all we required during our stay at KZN, as well as selecting the two of us to represent the school for the elective program at UKZN, South Africa.

6) Lastly, we thank the nursing staff as well as the interns who helped us settle in each department and allowed us the opportunity to help wherever we could.

Introducing Amanda Sit, GEMx Co-Op

Filed under: From GEMx Staff


Hello! My name is Amanda Sit and I am very excited to be a new member of the GEMx team. I am currently a pre-junior Marketing Major at Drexel University and I am the GEMx International Relations Assistant. The reason why I chose GEMx is so that I can foster a deeper understanding for other cultures as well as actively promote health-education globally.

A little about me is that I grew up in Edison, New Jersey a small diverse suburban area before moving into the large city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for my studies. It was a completely new experience since Philadelphia has many unique restaurants and stores to check out! I love to try out new food places and travel.

This photo was taken in the Philippines during low tide.

I love traveling to different places for the culture, food, and activities each place has to offer. My favorite travel destination that I’ve been to so far is the Philippines. Growing up Filipino, I was very fortunate to travel to my mother’s home country and experience the culture. I really enjoyed the food at local restaurants.  Chicken Adobo and Lumpia (Spring rolls) were my favorite dishes to eat. The most memorable part of the trip was island hopping in Coron, Philippines. Seeing the island untouched by modernity was very exciting.

I am a firm believer that GEMx is as good as the team working behind it, and I am very thankful that I get to be a part of the team.

Copyright © 2013-2018 by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. All rights reserved.
Terms | Privacy