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Ndokuda, Zimbabwe. I Love You, Zimbabwe.

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

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.

Poisons, Primary Care and Pediatric Pharmacy Rotation at Pari Hospital The “very informative learning voyage”of Karl Alex Mogacea

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

New blog by Karl Alex Mogaka medical student at Kenyatta University School of Health Science who has completed his elective at the Pari Hospital (Zimbabwe) 

A phone call from Dr. Kahiga, the GEMx coordinator changed a rather dull afternoon. I must have been excited to learn that my school had spotted me for an exchange program. Apart from having to travel to a different country, experience a new culture, just having to fly made it more exciting.

Zimbabwe was the destination at the University of Zimbabwe. The exchange was to incorporate clinical pharmacy skills and knowledge for a month-long period. I arrived in Harare well into the afternoon, allowing enough time for Mr. Pozi, our driver to pick us up at the Harare International airport. The city was beautiful in the sky. ‘I will love the stay here,’ I murmured to my colleague Beryl, with whom I would take the elective, as the Ethiopian flight touched down minutes past noon.

Mr. Pozi easily recognized soon us after we checked out and drove as straight to the host institution where Mrs. Rachael, the elective officer, was waiting for us to provide further directions for the elective. Beryl and I spent the rest of the afternoon settling down in the institution. The weeks ahead will be engaging, but we up for it. The dean school of pharmacy, Prof. Tagwireyi was instrumental in drawing a Rota for the four weeks we would spend at his school. We spent the first week at the Drug and Toxicology Information Services (DATIS). At DATIS we were able to gather knowledge on handling of poising cases. Poisoning can be chemical, biological or physical. Most of the cases handled at DATIS were referrals from the rest of the country. It was interesting to get hands-on skills in managing poisoning cases especially ones deemed hard to handle by primary and secondary care facilities.

Mr. Gadaga, the director DATIS was very instrumental in showing us what needs to be done at every step of a referred case. For him, response time and determination of the actual poison were key to helping the patient. He also engaged in running of key tests at the specialized lab that was relevant for the poisoning case at hand. The culmination of this knowledge and skills gathering was a case presentation to the panel of DATIS pre-registration pharmacists.

The weekend was here, and being sabbath keepers, we found a local church for spiritual nourishment. It was home away from home. Mr. Nkobu, a church elder at City Church made sure we came back for the rest of the sabbaths.

Week two was yet another learning voyage. This time we hit the road 345 km west of the capital Harare to a district hospital. Themed as ‘Rural attachment,’ the week-long attachment was aimed at imparting knowledge on health structuring at primary care establishments. We made a visit to a level 3 facility as well as several level 1 facilities. Here, we appreciated the role of a pharmacist at the primary care level. Again, this exposure was very informative since such does not exist in my home country. However, the dominance of alternative medicine at rural establishments did catch my attention. The hospitals admitted that they allowed patients to seek non- conventional interventions for some “difficult cases.”

Week 3 needed some conventional medicine. We regrouped with my colleague. It was evident, the one week apart had us both missing each other. After all, we were the only thing close to home for each other. Prof. Tagwireyi organized for us to join the ward rounds at the Pari Hospital. A rotation at the hematology unit was quite a piece. We got to learn much about blood cancers. It was very fulfilling to suggest some of the management protocols for blood cancers. This case of stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma complicated with anemia had the clinician, Dr. Banaman, seek the input of a pharmacist oncologist.

We also joined pediatric rounds. Here prof. Natoo was quite a bill. Her mastery of the pediatric protocols was just admirable. I loved her involvement with the caregivers of the children in the management plan of the cases.

Gynecology was another stop. We also rotated for four days as the other two. Much of the cases we came across mirrored what we had already encountered at home. However, it was interesting to note the differential management protocols for some of those conditions. The consulting gynecologist was quite patient with us for not knowing the given concepts. But again, we were open to learning as well. We wrapped it up with a rotation at opportunistic infection (OI) clinic which also doubled up as a research center for HIV/AIDS regimens for the Zimbabwe populace. I agree it was much informative.

We would not have done justice to the stay in Zimbabwe had we not visited the iconic Victoria Falls. Three days before our travel back home, we made a maiden journey to Victoria Falls, 600km west of the capital. The site of the falls is just breathtaking. We were both in awe all the while as we let the site take our breaths away. The excursion was iced up with a zip-lining experience. The learning experience at the Pari Hospital might have been fatiguing, but this experience was a deserved nerve-calmer. Soon, a flight would touch down at Nairobi JKIA. “Home at last,” I sighed as I checked out of immigrations. The new friends including one Mr. Van would be ones to keep in touch all through.


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