Author Archives: Regional Media and Publications Officer

“The e-Cigarette Craze”

By Bakani M. Ncube

According to the American Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to look like and to be used in the same manner as conventional cigarettes. They are sold online and in many shopping malls. The devices generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavour, and other chemicals and work by turning nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapour that is inhaled by the user. Unlike the conventional cigarette, electronic cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, so vaping (a term used to describe smoking/use of e-cigs) is not a form of tobacco use. The main component of e-cigarettes is the e-liquid contained in cartridges. The e-liquid is created by nicotine extraction from tobacco which is mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol), and may also include flavourings, colourings and other chemicals. There are nearly 500 different brands of e-cigarettes and around 7,700 flavours.

E-cigarettes can expose users to several potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine, carbonyl compounds and volatile organic compounds. Nicotine is an addictive substance, and almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Even some products that claim not to have any nicotine in them may still contain it. Initial FDA lab tests conducted in 2009 found that cartridges labelled as nicotine-free had traceable levels of nicotine. A 2014 study found little consistency in the amount of nicotine delivered by e-cigarettes of the same brand and strength. The newer e-cigarettes, especially “tank” styles, with higher voltage also deliver a greater concentration of nicotine and the more nicotine used, the greater the potential for addiction.

Nicotine has a negative impact on adolescent brain development. Human brain development continues far longer than was previously realized, and nicotine use during adolescence and young adulthood has been associated with lasting cognitive and behavioural impairments, including effects on working memory and attention. E-cigarettes also have detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze.The aerosol from e-cigarettes with a higher voltage level contains more formaldehyde, another carcinogen.

Diacetyl, a buttery flavoured chemical often added to food products such as popcorn, caramel, and dairy products, has also been found in some e-cigarettes with flavours and can cause a serious and irreversible lung disease commonly known as “popcorn lung.” There are concerns about poisonings too with the use of e-cigarettes as data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that e-cigarette liquid poisoning comes from accidental ingestion of the e-liquid or exposure through the eye and the skin. Ingestion of e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine can cause acute toxicity and possibly death. Due to lithium batteries which are easily overcharged and have a short circuit, some of these devices have also exploded in their users’ faces or simply in the pockets of their denims while seriously injuring them.

In most places, indoor smoking is not allowed and it is interesting to note that no such rule applies with e-cigarette use even though they also contain harmful substances. It is true that e-cigarettes do not contain smoke, however they do expose others to secondhand emissions. Formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (all carcinogens) have been found coming from second-hand emissions and the American Lung Association supports prohibiting the use of e‐cigarettes in worksites and public places, and including e-cigarettes under smoke free laws with other tobacco products.

There are various reasons for their use. One of the reasons why the youth use e-cigs is because of the flavours. However, their use can serve as a gateway to using real cigarettes as they develop tolerance to the nicotine in e-cigs. Owing to these factors, the use of e-cigs among youth is now a significant public health concern as the youth are using them at increasingly alarming rates. Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General found e-cigarette use among high school students increased by 900%, with more teens now using e-cigarettes than cigarettes. The tobacco industry aggressively markets e-cigarettes to youth, glamorizing their use in advertisements. These devices also do not have a legal age restriction and can be sold to anyone. However, the manufacturers of these devices market them as a means for cigarette smokers to quit smoking and that’s currently their main use.


    1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General.”
    2. Goniewicz ML, Hajek P, McRobbie H. (2014). “Nicotine Content of Electronic Cigarettes, its Release in Vapour and its Consistency Across Batches: Regulatory Implications.” Addiction. 109:500-7.
    3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). “Quickstats: Percent Distribution of Cigarette Smoking Status Among Adult Current E-Cigarette Users, by Age Group, National Health Interview Survey”, United States, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 65(42):1177.

Bakani M. Ncube is the ZPSA Student Exchange Officer 2016-17, Contact Person 2017-18 and the World Healthcare Students Symposium International Campus Ambassador. He is passionate about writing and Public Health.

Alphonse Mbarushimana; RPSA President on leadership and his IPSF story

IPSF Story

My own story in IPSF is not too long. In 2013, I was in the first year of University, I got to know that pharmacy students are connected internationally through an awesome global platform (IPSF). I started being engaged with its program and working with high-spirited people who bring their best abilities to make and keep the federation higher. I co-organized the 4th IPSF African Regional Symposium, Leaders In Training, Trainers Development Camp 2016 and three consecutive RPSA International Pharmaceutical Symposiums. The leadership positions I held were: IPSF Policy Committee Member, IPSF Pharmacy Education Advocacy Coordinator 2015, IPSF Contact Person 2016. I’ve been recently nominated to be a leader of partnership team in professional development events. Being involved at such level opened my eyes and helped me to discover my potential to I could not have seen before.

I am not yet where I want to be but every step I am taking is another step towards achieving my goal. I wish my fellow healthcare professionals to have a spirit that will take IPSF to another level and make the world a better place – a place everybody would wish to live in.


Changes require leadership and partnership. It’s still early to evaluate the work I’ve done so far and so hard to measure my ability by considering what I have done. I think the greatest value I have is my ability to adapt to changes. It’s a big challenge for our generation to be able to understand well what they can be the best at. My vision is optimistic, I will never ever allow anybody to take it from me. It may take long to see it happen, but I do hope that it becomes much more than it is right now.  Being a leader in any field means a lot of things on both leadership position holder and people who are following. It is best to envision what you want to see, find out where is your place and how you can contribute. If you go contrary to this, you become a leader for nothing.

My fellows can learn from that as I learn a lot from them too. When you get a chance to put in practice the skills you have acquired, it’s a way of accumulating more experience you never get from anywhere else. Being engaged in such way, it helps you to learn and improve yourself, to have better and greater influence on your society and region at large. Whatever we do in our daily life and call it small thing or not big enough in our eyes, counts for something great to make long journeys shorter because it may be one of the ways to go the high mile for you or your generation. Just give it a try, make mistakes and fail but be sure to get out of the situation with tons of lessons. When we keep saying the same things and go back with no better decision on what to do, we  find ourselves with no change in future. Do not wait for that  time to come, just move on.

As drops that make an ocean are small things, what you are able to do now will open a door of doing great things you desire to achieve in years to come. Connections are the key! They are the people who connect you to other people and make you strong.  

IPSF AfRO members talk about WHSS 2017

The World Healthcare Students Symposium (WHSS) is the world’s biggest student conference, a biennial global multidisciplinary  summit that brings together healthcare students and healthcare professionals under one roof to learn, discuss and draw inspiration from eminent speakers, policy makers and renowned global health leaders. Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association(RPSA), a member of IPSF AfRO is set to host the 7th WHSS this year from November 23-27, 2017 in Kigali Rwanda. Othniel Nimbabazi, 7th WHSS External Relations Vice Chairperson sought the views of our members on the upcoming symposium. 

Safari Justin – DRC

For us CEP-UOB/ D.R.Congo, hosting the WHSS in the AfRO region is a great opportunity (more than an opportunity) to show to all parts of the word how strong Africa is.  It will be a good moment for us to share with others our knowledge and our cultures (the best in the word). It will also be a moment for us to learn about how the health sciences evolve in other regions of the word and what we can do to reach a perfect healthcare system in Africa. For us it’s a golden opportunity. Viva Africa!

Abdulhafeez Mustapha – Nigeria

I have met with quite a number of Rwandans at different events. I am particularly confident in the Team because of my previous interactions with them. I expect to see a well-planned event from the team while having a wonderful experience during the symposium. Conferences like this brings a lot of opportunities especially networking among other professionals from all the world, this will set the ball rolling for inter-professional collaborations. 

Robin Valencia Arendse- South Africa

Having WHSS in our region (Africa) one can expect to learn a lot more about management of conditions which are generally only found in Africa; these include a greater insight of TB treatment or how we handle medicine policies in bringing medicines created elsewhere in the world to our continent. Lastly, if we look at healthcare professionals in general, the world believes they need to send doctors to our countries as if we need them, but they are the ones that need us in fact. Africa provides a platform of learning [things] which cannot be found in books. [We learn through] what we see and are exposed to everyday and by being exposed we have a better understanding of providing information on treatment plans of resistant strains of TB as well as balancing poverty with good healthcare.

Anyase Ronald Amaza- Uganda

It is a pleasure  to have the WHSS, the biggest health students gathering in the whole world to be organized in Africa, especially the region of East Africa. Being Ugandans, we congratulate our colleagues in Rwanda for taking the extreme mandate to host this benevolent activity. As East Africans, we believe this will give us a chance to show our competence in healthcare delivery, and through organizing of such noble events. The host is the Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association (RPSA) our sisters in the land of a thousand Hills. They represent the pharmacy fraternity, which makes us happier that the pharmacy profession is steadily growing with a lot of promise. We expect to see a plethora of guests from all over the World offering various health science courses to discuss how we can work together as a team of different experts in the medical field so as to foster achievement of health and well-being for all, a mandate fronted by WHO. I expect the best conference ever in the history of health science students’ symposia in the World.

Isabella ilikwell Lokurukam- Kenya

I personally think that the WHSS couldn’t have come to Africa, and especially East Africa, at a better time and under a better theme. I feel like we are that generation of young Africans in healthcare who can make an impact that will be felt for generations to come. I look forward to an inspirational and fruitful symposium in November!

Eric Konan- Ivory Coast

The World Healthcare Students’ Symposium (WHSS) is an event that brings together medicine, pharmacy and allied health sciences students in an international forum to generate discussion and understanding between the professions, develop skills and awareness of concepts in multidisciplinary working, and be advocates for a cooperative multidisciplinary approach to patient-centered care to optimize health outcomes.

Bakani Ncube- Zimbabwe

For me, I’m excited that the WHSS is coming to Sub Saharan Africa for the first time as well as that IPSF is hosting it too for the first time! Both these facts make me proud of being an African pharmacy student and I would like to see Africa shine and take center stage. As for my expectations, I expect a world class symposium that unites healthcare professionals and healthcare students from all over the world, interacting and uniting under one roof and discussing pressing global health issues-2 of which are close to me personally i.e the One Health concept and AMR. It should also be a time to make long lasting friendships that will endure the test of time

Joel Kibona- Tanzania

I feel proud for the WHSS to be in our region this year! This is a great opportunity for our members to participate and learn! More, they will have time to interact and connect with others and expand their scope of understanding the health field, that will enhance unity and cooperation toward searching for solutions in the field.

Alex Bayoh- Sierra Leone

The significance of hosting the WHSS in Africa can’t be overemphasized. The need for strategic healthcare reform that suits the region has been clearly indicated by recent health related tragedies such as Ebola and Cholera outbreaks and the increase rate of malnutrition among infants in the sub regions. The healthcare delivery system in Africa needs transformation from the already existing conventional approach to a modified multidisciplinary healthcare approach. As we fight to be innovative by introducing new techniques and technologies into the practice, we also need to include effective and safe use of orthodox and complementary medicine into the practice. The WHSS will be a platform to discuss, debate and find solutions to the health issues that affects our region and place them in order of priority based on their importance and urgency so that health policies that will be made  will have significant improvement on our region.

Editor’s note: Visit to learn more about the symposium.




The fives things I talked about in an IPSF Leaders-in-Training workshop in Uganda

By Kennedy Odokonyero

Last month, I was privileged to speak to pharmacy students in Uganda on the invitation of Uganda Pharmaceutical Students Association (UPSA). UPSA had organised an IPSF Leaders-in-Training (LIT) workshop, the first of its kind in Uganda. According to the IPSF LIT guidelines, the training aims to develop a quality and sustainable leadership programme for pharmacy and pharmaceutical students and recent graduates worldwide. It provides  students with leadership, management and advocacy skills.

The purpose of my talk was to inspire the students to take on leadership positions. When Mr. Anyase Ronald Amaza, the outgoing President of Makerere University Pharmacy Students Association (my alma mater), asked me to give the talk, my first thought was that I have really grown that old! Well, it’s mostly old people who are invited to inspire the young generation.

My talk centred on the lessons I have learned and continue to learn in my leadership journey. It’s fair to say I have grown some grey hair of wisdom when it comes especially to leadership in student lead organisations. A look at my LinkedIn profile says it all.

In this article, I will share with you the five lessons I highlighted in my presentation:

  1. Leadership is inevitable in life. The sooner you realise that, the better. You can’t run away from leadership. At some point, you’ll have to become a leader by default; be it at home, workplace or your community. The time is therefore now to take up any leadership opportunity that knocks on your door. It’ll give the experience to be the great leader you have to be when the time comes for you to become a leader by “force.”
  2. Take up leadership roles in things that you’re passionate about, because you’ll enjoy doing it. I am passionate about media. Most of my leadership positions has been in media. IPSF for example has more than 80 positions, you’ll surely find something that you like.
  3. Self-motivation is important to keep you going. There’ll be hard and challenging times. Times when you’d wish to throw in the towel. I vividly remember when I was the Finance Secretary of Makerere University College of Health Sciences Students Association, we were left with three days until  the College Dinner, but only about 20% of our budget was covered. There was no one to look up to because everyone on the team was just totally stressed. Self-motivation will come in handy in such scenarios. It helped me in chasing after sponsors. I didn’t want the books of history to say that our team failed to organise the dinner.
  4. Once you take up a position, be serious, don’t just ‘pass time.’ I work with a lot of student leaders from across the globe. A few don’t take their work seriously. A whole one month deadline for accomplishing a simple task passes without them meeting it. As Mitchelle Masuko, the 62nd IPSF World Congress Chairperson told me in an interview in March, “In all you do, strive to go beyond expectations.” What kind of impact are you leaving behind? What will people you lead say about you when your term of office ends? After you leave, will get invited back to deliver a talk?
  5. Learn, learn and learn about leadership because that’s the only way of becoming better in the craft. I found myself struggling a lot of times. I realised I couldn’t do it all by myself. I needed to learn leadership styles, communication, team motivation, ethics, etc. I successfully applied for a leadership training programme. It has helped me a lot. There’re lots of leadership courses online, sign up for them. Many leadership academies for young people are out there , please apply for them.


Mr. Kennedy is the Regional Media and Publications Officer of the IPSF African Regional Office. Twitter: @OdoKent

“WHSS 2017 will be the biggest conference of its kind,” Janvier Kabogo, Chairperson 7th WHSS

The World Healthcare Students Symposium (WHSS) is the world’s biggest student conference, a biennial global multidisciplinary  summit that brings together healthcare students and healthcare professionals under one roof to learn, discuss and draw inspiration from eminent speakers, policy makers and renowned global health leaders. Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association(RPSA), a member of IPSF AfRO is set to host the 7th WHSS this year from November 23-27, 2017 in Kigali Rwanda. Our Regional Media and Publications Officer, Kennedy Odokonyero, had a chat with Janvier Kabogo, Chairperson of 7th WHSS. Here’s the excerpt:

Mr. Janvier Kabogo, Chairperson of 7th WHSS.

How’s the preparation for the WHSS going? Is everything going as planned? How are sponsors and students responding?                        

Well, Preparations are now on track, everything seems to be going the way it was /is planned.

Because of the idea of WHSS International Campus Ambassadors (ICAs) you can easily see that healthcare students across the World are excited about coming to Kigali in November for WHSS.

FYI WHSS is being organized under high patronage of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda Prof. Philip Cotton and endorsed by Rwanda Development Board (RDB). This gives the event more relevance and credibility hence attract partners and sponsors to come on board.

So far we have Ecobank- Rwanda as our only banking partner, Global Health Focus (GHF) and Global Engagement Institute (GEI) as our technical partners on the scientific aspect of the conference.                        

Great. Good work so far by your team. What’s the theme for WHSS 2017 and why did you choose that particular theme?                        

Thank you, WHSS 2017’s theme is “Towards the SDGs Agenda 2030: The role of a multidisciplinary approach in Healthcare”


Because through this platform we intend to create ground for discussions and understanding about how the need of multidisciplinary collaboration among healthcare students and professionals is paramount in achieving the SDGS.

Furthermore it will be an opportunity to inspire future global health leaders to take actions to change the World.                        

Why should every health science student be in Kigali comes November for the WHSS? To put it simply, how will the symposium benefit its participants?                        

I would summarize this in 3 simple points:

  1. Unlike other conferences that only focuses on field, WHSS provides a unique opportunity to meet and network with over 2000 expected delegates from different health fields Worldwide  that will be the biggest conference of its kind. We also expect to bring prominent speakers who will be sharing insights and their stories during plenaries, Panel discussion and Workshops , Quite a huge global gathering!
  2. Rwanda is one of the fastest [growing] economies in Africa, with clean city and lovely people, you’ve got to come and experience an exquisite hospitality of Rwandan people, Plus many beautiful touristic places, its Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park, the home of famous gorillas and many more.
  3. FUN, WHSS 2017 will not only feature scientific programs and boring lectures , delegates will be given time to explore the culture of Rwanda through social events and explore by themselves Kigali during nights , those who want clubbing, social activities and making fun , you will have ample time for that…

Please don’t miss, #WHSSKigali17, come November!                        

Imagine a student is reading this interview from South Africa and would like to be a part of WHSS. What should he do? Where can he register from? Where can he get more information?                        

That is the most interesting question.

Beside our social media (Usually Twitter and Facebook) which are very active, you can visit our website for more information and online registration. After registration, you receive an automatic email containing payment information and procedures.

Talking about payment, we have two packages: Flexi Package without accommodation (100$) and Novo Package with accommodation (280$) you choose whatever affordable to you.

If you plan to come to Kigali before the conference kindly visit us and meet a dedicated organizing team at our permanent Secretariat Offices, Ecobank HQ Building, 8th Floor Kigali-Rwanda.                                            

Amazing. For students who might be having financial difficulties, is there any sponsorship or grant you are offering?                        

Huuum! Well, the team is working tirelessly to raise more funds, hopefully if we get many sponsors on board we shall definitely be able to provide scholarships, but that is something we don’t have full control over, it will depend.                        

However we encourage students to request for support letters and recommendation and do their own fundraising through crowdfunding and approaching different companies, institutions/Organizations.               

Can you explain what crowdsourcing is?                        

Crowdsourcing is one of online ways of fundraising whereby you elaborate clearly the object of your project that needs fund (be it a project, or an impactful/important trip) and you put it on website or social and get people willingly support you financially using their Visa Cards.                       

I am amazed by how your team is organising the symposium. The social media publicity and branding is amazing. The team looks so vibrant and motivated. What’s the secret to RPSA’s great skills in organising events?                        

Thank you so much for your motivation. Since when we joined RPSA in 2014 with my peers; Israel, Jeff ,Mandela amongst others, we have been wanting to learn, try new things, give ourselves challenges and aim high and I think , commitment ,determination and teamwork were at the heart of everything , be it success or setbacks.                        

Credits go to the amazing organizing team of this WHSS, Joint Working Group and generous support from the host association RPSA, Rwanda.        

7th WHSS Organizing Team.

I highly recommend that after the symposium through IPSF, you organise a training on event organisation for student associations. You have a lot of experience and skills to share with the world.                        

It would be a pleasure Ken! In fact, recently I was having a discussion with one of my closest colleague about developing a guide, kind of a tool that can give insights and guidance to freshmen on how to be actively involved in student led organizations, how can someone make an impact on a student level and such brilliant idea a on how to organize successful small and big events. And I think we shall co-work with you Ken! Will you be interested?      

I am definitely interested.            

Way to go.👌🏿                                                      

Thank you so much, I am so humbled! Thanks to IPSF for providing such platforms.                        

Any last words you have for health science students across Africa?                        

My wish is to see all healthcare students (be it Pharmacy, Medical, Nursing Dental, Veterinary and other allied health Sciences Students) convene to Rwanda for this cause (WHSS 2017). I would therefore like to welcome you all to Rwanda on behalf of the Organizing Committee, Patron of the conference, Joint Working Group and Our partners.  Welcome to Rwanda, Welcome to WHSS 2017, November 23-27, 2017

We look forward to seeing you all!                        

Thank you so much Janvier for making time to talk to us. We wish you all the very best in the preparations for the WHSS. We hope to be with you in November.                        

Thank you so much IPSF AfRO especially you Ken for the opportunity to feature in your publications. Let keep this journey interesting as it is now, I know with this enthusiasm and commitment, our future and the one of the Pharmacy is with no doubt bright.

By the way, let me take this opportunity to openly appreciate the good Job you guys in AfRO you are doing. You are inspiration to the next generations of pharmacists and global health leaders across the continent and the World at large.                        

😊😊😊 Awww thanks Janvier.                        

End malaria for good: Here are the key things to know

By Beingana Geofrey

Today is World Malaria Day. The theme for this year is: End malaria for good. In this article, I present to you the key things to know about this epidemic.

What is Malaria?
Malaria is a life-threatening blood disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes named Anopheles. Once an infected mosquito bites a human and transmits the parasites, those parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells.

Facts about Malaria
Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths. Increased prevention and control measures have led to a 29% reduction in malaria mortality rates globally since 2010. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths.

In areas with high transmission of malaria, children under 5 are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death; more than two thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in this age group. Between 2010 and 2015, the under-5 malaria death rate fell by 29% globally. However malaria remains a major killer of children under five years old, taking the life of a child every two minutes.

Malaria is an acute febrile (showing symptoms of fever) illness. In a non-immune individual, symptoms appear 7 days or more (usually 10–15 days) after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms – fever, headache, chills and vomiting – may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum (one of the species of the parasite that cause malaria in humans) malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.

Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis (occurs when the body produces excessive quantities of acid), or cerebral malaria. In adults, multi-organ involvement is also frequent. In malaria endemic areas, people may develop partial immunity, allowing asymptomatic infections to occur.

Who is at risk?
Some population groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria, and developing severe disease, than others. These include infants, children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and patients with HIV/AIDS, as well as non-immune migrants, mobile populations and travellers.

Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission. If coverage of vector control interventions within a specific area is high enough, then a measure of protection will be conferred across the community. World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends protection for all people at risk of malaria with effective malaria vector control through the following ways:

Indoor residual spraying (Photo: RTI/ B Stewart).

  • Sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets
  • Indoor spraying with residual insecticides
  • Antimalarial drugs

In pregnancy, WHO recommends intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (commonly known as Fansidar), at each scheduled antenatal visit after the first trimester. Similarly, for infants living in high-transmission areas of Africa, 3 doses of intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine are recommended, delivered alongside routine vaccinations. In 2012, WHO recommended Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention as an additional malaria prevention strategy for areas of the Sahel sub-Region of Africa.

  • Clearing bushes and any other possible breeding places like stagnant water is also recommendable.

Diagnosis and treatment
Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission.

If we all contribute to eradicating Malaria we shall achieve it. Have you played your role? Well this was mine.

Mr. Beingana is the Regional Projects Officer at IPSF African Regional Office.


“How much are subscriptions[for gym]?” and the question that often follows is: “How much are supplements?”

By Bakani M. Ncube

The gym craze and the desire for summer bodies is something that has become part of our culture. These summer bodies that are made in winter come at a cost though, and that cost involves something along the lines of waking up at 4:40am and having your clothes already laid out – the daily routine figured out: a workout, followed by the first of six meals which have been carefully weighed and packed and are to be ingested at very specific time intervals. After work, the gym bunny has to go back to the gym and be in bed early and ready to repeat the sequence the next day, and every day after that. This is the life most of us aren’t willing to live and yet we want those washboard abs.

When people subscribe to a gym, they usually walk up to the receptionist/trainer and ask “How much are subscriptions?” and the question that often follows is “How much are supplements?”. This is where my public health concern begins as “supplements” can become like a gateway drug for anabolic steroids. The pathway to steroid use for a lot of guys starts off with protein powder here, maybe they put some creatine with it, maybe then they think ‘God it’d be good to try testosterone booster’ says Scott Griffiths, a muscle dysmorphia researcher. He further says, “That familiarisation with using powders and pills to achieve your goals makes it more comfortable for you to eventually use steroids”. So what really are steroids?

According to Drug Facts, “Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. The proper term for these compounds is anabolic-androgenic steroids. “Anabolic” refers to muscle building, and “androgenic” refers to increased male sex characteristics”. Some common names for anabolic steroids are Gear, Juice, Roids, and Stackers.” Steroids are used clinically by healthcare providers to treat hormonal issues such as delayed puberty and to treat muscle wasting diseases such as AIDS and cancer. However, they are abused by some athletes and bodybuilders and now the ordinary guy in the gym who hasn’t looked natural in a while and this steroid abuse is done to boost performance, improve endurance and physical appearance. These steroids are usually taken orally or injected into the muscles (sometimes applied topically). The doses administered are usually 10-100 times higher than doses that would be prescribed to treat medical conditions. There is a belief that lacks scientific evidence that certain methods can be used to avoid any adverse events in the use of steroids and these are:

  • cycling—taking doses for a period of time, stopping for a time, and then restarting
  • stacking—combining two or more different types of steroids
  • pyramiding—slowly increasing the dose or frequency of abuse, reaching a peak amount, and then gradually tapering off

Short term effects of the use of anabolic steroids include mental problems such as paranoia, extreme irritability, delusions and impaired judgment. Extreme mood swings do also occur (“roid rage”) which are angry feelings and violent behaviour. Severe acne is also a problem with steroid use and it causes the body to swell, particularly the hands and feet.

Long-Term Effects

Anabolic steroid abuse may lead to serious, even permanent, health problems such as:

  • kidney problems or failure
  • liver damage
  • enlarged heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, even in young people

Several other effects are gender- and age-specific

In men:

  • shrinking testicles
  • decreased sperm count
  • baldness
  • development of breasts
  • increased risk for prostate cancer

In women:

  • growth of facial hair or excess body hair
  • male-pattern baldness
  • changes in or stop in the menstrual cycle
  • enlarged clitoris
  • deepened voice

In teens:

  • stunted growth (when high hormone levels from steroids signal to the body to stop bone growth too early)
  • stunted height (if teens use steroids before their growth spurt)

Some of these physical changes, such as shrinking sex organs in men, can add to mental side effects such as mood disorders. There is an increased risk of contracting or spreading HIV/AIDS or hepatitis among people who share needles that they use for injections.

Bakani M. Ncube is a second year pharmacy student, the Student Exchange Officer for ZPSA, Technical & Events Organizer for One Health and has a keen interest in Public Health.

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself, find out who you are and do it on purpose”- Mitchelle Masuko, 62nd IPSF World Congress Chairperson

She is one of the most iconic women in IPSF African Regional Office. She broke many barriers while in the federation. She’s one of the brains that brought back IPSF World Congress to Africa after more than 20 years. She is a leader. She is Mitchelle Masuko. Our Regional Media and Publications Officer, Kennedy Odokonyero had a chat with her on gender, career and IPSF experience. Here is the excerpt.

Have you retired from IPSF officially or do you still hold any position?                        
[I am] not retired. I am an alumni and ZPSA (Zimbabwe Pharmaceutical Students Association) advisor.                        

For how long have been involved/active in the federation?                        
Since 2012.                       

Wow! You’re a grandmother! 😜😜                        
😂😂😆 There are some who date further back than me.                    

Your IPSF CV must be pages long. What were some of the positions that you held?
ZPSA Vice President 2012, IPSF contact person 2013, AfPS (African Pharmaceutical Symposium) Reception Committee Chairperson 2014 and 62nd IPSF World Congress Chairperson 2015-2016.

2nd IPSF AfPS, Tanzania , 2013.

Looking back, what is your most memorable moment in your journey in IPSF?                     
I would say the 62nd World Congress. This was a really stressful, but amazing time for me. Many important lessons learnt both professionally and on a personal level.

62nd IPSF World Congress, Zimbabwe, 2016.

Still thinking of the next question. 😀 I want to ask you something on gender. Trying to figure out how to put it. Got something! Do you have interest in gender issues and women empowerment?                        
I do have an interest in women empowerment. Being the first born in a family of 3 girls, l grew up being taught how to be independent and work towards achieving my goals. Education and empowerment are the most important things you can give a woman and success is guaranteed. I believe in woman empowerment as this will ultimately lead to success of a community and a nation as a whole. As for gender issues, I am all for gender equality, making people realize that men and women were created in the same light and therefore are equal and can achieve the same goals if given equal opportunities. I also believe that gender equality is not about which is the fairer or the most important gender but it is about sharing responsibilities equally, supporting each other- men and women treating each other with respect and building nations together.                        

Wow! That’s really inspiring. I will make sure my little sister reads it.                        
Do you think organizations such as IPSF are giving women the space to occupy top leadership positions?                        
Oh yes! Looking back from the time l have been involved with IPSF, women have held various top positions from President, Regional Chairpersons, Coordinators and others. In IPSF, it’s not about gender, it’s about electing a person with capabilities.                        

What advice would you give to a girl who wants to walk a path similar to yours in IPSF?
Making a difference is not rocket science. All you need to do is be involved, be available and be committed to being a part of the progress.     

61st IPSF World Congress, India, 2015.

What are you currently doing? I mean as a pharmacist.                        
At the moment, l am working as a community pharmacist and l am a Masters in Health Service Management candidate.

10 or 5 years from now, where do you see yourself?                        
In 5 years, l see myself involved in capacity building in resource limited settings and overtime be a driving force of global health change                        

Any last words?                        
To all the ladies in IPSF, as we celebrate women’s month remember this, beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself, find out who you are and do it on purpose. In all you do strive to go beyond expectations.                        

Thank you very much Mitchelle for sharing your story.                        
Most welcome. This was fun lol.                       


61st IPSF World Congress, India, 2015.    

Dear Nigerians, Please Keep off the Non-Prescribed Antibiotics while the rest of the World Innovates

By Temitope Ben-Ajepe

A few weeks ago, I participated in a global health certificate course organized by the AB Global Health Initiative in conjunction with the Global Health Focus and The Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS) amongst other partners at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. This was the final point of the triangle that started at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria before proceeding to the University of Port-Harcourt and then completing its orbit at the western cohort. The main focus of the course centered on the place of Pharmacy in Global Health. Global Health — an emerging science, is the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide.  It’s not surprising then, that the Pharmacy profession aligns favorably with this given its contribution to the availability of medicines.

Throughout the course of two days, (a week in total without breaks for the entire country) there were intensive sessions on health economics/ Pharmacoeconomics, Pharmacovigilance/Counterfeit Drugs, Global Health Logistics, Vaccine Development, Medicines in Health Systems, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Orphan Drugs, and Health Advocacy & Policy taken by Professor Don Eliseo Lucero Prisno III, a global health thought leader, Professor Adesegun Fatusi, a pro and other distinguished speakers. I learned so much in such seemingly little time. And while all sessions hit the nail right on the head, some shone brighter than others. For me, it was the topic(s) of Antimicrobial Resistance and Health technologies.

A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization released its list of Antibiotic Resistant priority pathogens drawn up to guide and promote research and development of new antibiotics. The bacteria of interests are classified into “Critical”, “High” and “Medium” priorities. And in every category, sub-Saharan Africa sits snugly; a big part of the problem also at the mercy of big pharma corporations and G20 health experts. Antimicrobial Resistance is becoming a worldwide emergency because our antibiotics are on the last line of defense. This means that if new antibiotics aren’t discovered in time, we’ll be forced to resort to the old ones put away for their toxicity. In the same week, G20 health experts met in Berlin in a bid to discuss AMR; developing new antibiotics using the list as a resource tool for research and development because like Mr. Hermann Gröhe, Federal Minister of Health, Germany stated, “We need effective antibiotics for our health systems. We have to take joint action today for a healthier tomorrow.”

But in thinking globally as Global Health requires, the second phase of acting locally here in Nigeria meets a brick wall. In the absence of the development of new antibiotics in this neck of the woods, especially as a result of the dearth of research and development owing largely to the fact that there is little to no collaboration between indigenous pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy schools, what then can be done to slow down the fast rate of the superbug mutants? Every day, antibiotics continue to fly off the shelves, counters and even trays of unqualified persons merely out to do brisk business completely unaware of its dire consequences. In turn, superbugs (resistant gram –ve bacteria) are evolving and posing a serious threat to the population as a whole.  

Referring back to the course, plausible solutions to this included the very obvious imploring of pharmaceutical companies to invest financially into Pharmacy schools to encourage research and development in drug innovation (like it is practiced in saner climes) and a call for student pharmacists to team up in a bid to churn out research papers. Even mention was made of building our traditional medicines to the level of the Chinese and the Indians. The most pressing and urgent problem of continued, unrestricted access to antibiotics remained the white elephant in the room. Sensitization of the general public, we seemed to anonymously agree, was the most feasible way in alerting the public of its dire consequences. And as a result, more campaigns will be aggressively carried out. And the message? Do not buy antibiotics when they have not been prescribed by a qualified healthcare personnel. Ensure to completely finish the dosage for your prescribed antibiotic and if there are any left overs, dispose them off properly!

It’s quite obvious at this point that while more research and development is vital, alone, it cannot solve the problem. To address resistance, there must also be better prevention of infections and appropriate use of existing antibiotics in humans and animals, as well as rational use of any new antibiotics that are developed in future.