Blog by Purity Wambui Nyaikamba medical student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology who has completed her elective at the University of Zimbabwe of Health Sciences through GEMx.
I set foot in Mashonaland on the 14th of August and the thought of being away from home for a little over a month was soon over ridden by the glistening sunset and the warm welcome I received. I settled in very fast and 19th August came by faster than a fleeting sunset and it was time to start my elective. I didn’t know how it would go or what to expect, but I dived into it with an open mind, ready to make it worth my while.
The School of Pharmacy received me with open arms and made me feel at home. I was given a brief induction on how everything would go for the next four weeks by Mr. Louis Gadaga, who would then be my supervisor. He also introduced me to the relevant individuals who would ensure a smooth run throughout the period.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (PGH)
I was at PGH for three weeks where I met incredible individuals at every corner who readily took me in and allowed me to be part of them over the next couple of weeks. I was attached at different areas of the Pharmacy and each department was a great learning opportunity, largely because the people were more than willing to take me through the process and satisfy the curios cat in me.
The different departments I visited included; Main Pharmacy, Casualty Pharmacy, Theatre Pharmacy, Manufacturing Pharmacy, Out-Patient Department, Maternity and Family Planning Pharmacy, Opportunistic Infection Pharmacy and Drug Stores. I was also lucky enough to attend a meeting with the Board of Directors of the PGH, an eye opening experience that clearly showcased the essence of Multidisciplinary teamwork within the healthcare system.
In addition to this, I also attended the inaugural Customer Service Week event that was initiated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in a bid to promote proper customer service to patients and relatives. The Minister, who presided over this event, encouraged the inclusion of a customer care module in the curriculum designed to train healthcare professionals to ensure helpful and friendly cadres.
Ministry of Health
I joined the Supply Chain team comprising of individuals from the Ministry of Health, Directorate of Pharmaceutical Services among other key stakeholders in their bi-annual Quantification exercise that primarily involved forecasting and supply planning of medical products.
This is a privately owned pharmaceutical Industry that focuses on the manufacture of generic products largely for domestic use with exportation to nearby countries such as Malawi and Zambia. I was taken through most of the Pharmaceutical procedures from the standard operating procedures of the various departments to quality assurance and control.
University of Zimbabwe Clinical Research Centre
This is where they conduct most of the major clinical trials in the hospital where the role of a Pharmacist in Research was clearly demonstrated and elaborated.
Medicines and Control Authority of Zimbabwe
I was taken through the various departments that ensure the regulation of Medicines in the entire country. They also regulate the practice by providing a premise licence and person’s licence to anyone intending to deal with medicines in the country. The departments visited include: Licensing and enforcement, Chemistry department, Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials, Medical products and devices, Microbiological department and evaluation and registration department.
Zimbabwe Pharmaceutical Students Association
I was humbled and honoured to be part of their White Coat Ceremony of the 1st year Pharmacy Students at University of Zimbabwe. I also had the opportunity to join them during their orientation.
Pharmacists Council of Zimbabwe
I was able to gather insight from the Registrar in regard to the regulation of Pharmacists and appreciated the current working structure that is being revised to include a student’s registrar where the universities report to the council in regard to their progress in school. The council contributes in maintaining discipline among the Pharmacists together with the Medicines and Control Authority of Zimbabwe seeing that they have the power to suspend licenses.
Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe
I was honoured to meet the current President of the society. In addition to that I also attended a Continuous Education session organized by the society where I got to interact with some of the members.
Beyond the Elective
I planned a trip down to Victoria Falls and the Falls were a sight to behold, it was everything I expected and more. I seasoned this with an adrenaline filled Zip line activity and later a relaxed cruise on the Zambezi River. When it came to food, adapting wasn’t difficult seeing that Zimbabwean food is almost similar to East African food. “Sadza”, a bit softer than what we would otherwise call “Ugali” in Kenya, became an everyday affair and I totally loved it. As I went about my commitments, Zimbabweans impressed me day in, day out and what particularly stood out is their big hearts and warm personalities. I interacted with strangers who were quick to help and made lifelong friends from a simple hello.
This experience has enriched my life in every aspect and I am sincerely grateful to GEMx. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to see life and Pharmacy Practice through a different lens.