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.



These are the most Important Things you’ll need to organize a Successful Medical Outreach

By Temitope Ben-Ajepe

Just before you proceed: This post is a month late.

I had the opportunity to work on a community health project in the past month. It was exhilarating; in the sense that I had never before been charged with organizing a medical outreach and I was just so excited to get to the job done properly, it was also quite educative; I learned more about myself as a person than I ever have in the past decade combined and added to the growing skill set as I went along and the best part? It was fun.

More importantly, I learned lessons that every Pharmacy student could use if ever faced with having to organize a medical outreach at (what seemed to be) the drop of a hat.

The first and most important thing to get sorted when you first get started is the team you’ll be working with. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized and here’s why: It might come across as a tad cliché but you’re only ever as good as your team (Read: the people you’re working with to the actualization of a goal). They affect things in every way and form imaginable. They are the combination of skills you lack and affect the quality of decisions to be made by way of the information brought to the table. Also, since there’s no way you can possibly be everywhere at the same time, you will need to have to rely on the eyes, ears, hands and even intellectual prowess of other team members to get jobs done and tasks completed.

Having said this, in drafting a team, you should be on the lookout for competent, reliable and self-motivated people to work with. It is with this team that you can conquer the world. Sure, having friendly faces around sounds nice but you want people who are able to meet up with deliverables and understand how delegation works to avoid petty tirades and undesirable outcomes. (Disclaimer: There might be slight disagreements between team members. Be honest enough to acknowledge that we are after all humans and not Kryptonians).  

Once I had my team together, it was a lot easier whilst communicating with our sponsors. Our sponsors, a mobile platform that helps expectant and young, nursing mothers keep a tab on the growth of their children had their own ideas on how they wanted things done as regards to the medical outreach even down to the social media hash tag. Communication is a major key alert, in the words of the great DJ Khaleed, one you can’t ever go wrong with. Communicate with your team members and sponsors/partners. It was our job to communicate reasonably why some of our sponsors’ ideas weren’t feasible and propose even better suggestion in replacement. Having quite the intimidating profile and giant partners stationed behind them (the United States Department of State) heightened the motivation to do a thorough job and in order to do that, we had to be open and receptive to everything they were saying and smart and alert to articulate our responses.

Of course, there’s more to organizing a medical outreach but with these two on lockdown, you have everything else covered. Great communication skills – written and oral come in handy whilst preparing a budget, sensitizing the locals on all the event’s details, negotiating good deals on logistical issues such as securing a hall and renting a public address system and you’ll never know, someone on your team just might be BFFs (Best Friends Forever) with the president of the medical students’ association chapter in your school! Because: what outreach is complete without doctors and their upcoming generation?

And don’t forget, when your event is wildly successful, celebrate those who worked alongside you to. make it happen because they rock. In other words, food!


The write is an aspiring pharmacist and wordsmith. Interested in mobile health, big data and tweets from @temi_benjamin.      

Millions predicted to die from noncommunicable diseases in Africa by 2020: Here’s how we can fight the scourge

By Bakani M Ncube

I remember a friend of mine sending me a meme that said: “Get your change stuck in a vending machine? Don’t mess with it. Vending machines kill more people per year than sharks do!” This was hilarious. However, along with the words of one of my influencers, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, this meme got me contemplating on the severity of noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs).

According to PubMed, a noncommunicable disease (NCD) is a medical condition or disease that is by definition non-infectious and non-transmissible among people. They claim 38 million lives per year. This simply means that it is a disease or condition that if I have, I cannot pass it onto the next person and it is mine and mine alone. The four main types of NCDs have been highlighted to include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes. With this in mind, the World Health Organization (WHO) African Region Office has stated that millions of people are predicted to die from NCDs by 2020 and by 2025, 55% of all deaths will be attributable to NCDs and injuries. Most of the African adult population has at least one of the NCD risk factors which increases the chances of developing an NCD. It is due to these findings that these death threats can be predicted. Worldwide, deaths from NCDs are to reach an estimated 44 million within the next four years (a 15% increment) and this will be an increase from the WHO’s 2010 estimates. WHO African Region Officer Director states that “In recent years, much of the world’s attention and resources have – deservedly – been directed toward the immediate threat posed by emerging viruses, including Zika and Ebola. What this report serves to highlight, however, is that amidst these emergencies we cannot lose sight of the enormous health dangers posed by non-communicable diseases, especially since many of these can be prevented through changes in behavior and lifestyle.’’

In Africa, we mostly focus on the communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and the longest and most severe epidemic known in human history, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which was successfully eradicated in West Africa in December 2015. However, the NCDs do need attention too as these are diseases that can be life-threatening as well as debilitating. They place a significant hardship on the region, robbing people and families of those who otherwise should be enjoying their most productive years. We find ourselves as Pharmacy students in a very unique and important place. We can work together across the continent as the IPSF AfRO to raise awareness about NCDs as we have been doing in past years so as to combat the diseases and ensure that the next time we read the WHO Report of the Regional Director, these terrifying numbers may have significantly decreased. We must do everything we can to reverse these disturbing trends.

The prevention of NCDs is largely dependent on 4 major behavioural risk factors and these include:

  1. Tobacco use which is one of the most serious health risks globally, causing more than 70% of lung cancers, 40% of chronic lung diseases, and 10% cardiovascular diseases. In the African region, the prevalence of daily tobacco use among adults ranged from 5% to 26% (12% across the Region). Fortunately, some achievements have been made in the region with Botswana being the first country to introduce an additional levy on all tobacco products.

2. The harmful use of alcohol which most people consume for one reason or another.
3. A poor diet especially in Africa where some people are malnourished as a result of poverty and low income.
4. Low levels of physical activity within the region that have seen us being ranked worldwide as having the highest prevalence of hypertension, with about 46% of adults having high blood pressure.
Overall, there needs to be a paradigm shift within our beloved region where we become more conscious of the prevalence of NCDs and be bold enough to act on it, such that the alarming stats may decrease and we live long, healthy lives.

Mr. Bakani is a second year student at the University of Zimbabwe and has an interest in Public Health issues. He also serves as the Student Exchange Officer for the Zimbabwe Pharmaceutical Students Association.

IPSF Story of Patricia Nyokabi- 2014/15 Best Contact Person in AfRO and 5th AfPS Chairperson

By Patricia Nyokabi

I was first introduced to the exemplary work of the International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) during a Leaders-In-Training workshop organized by Kenya Pharmacy Students Association (KEPhSA) in November 2013. I had been invited together with some colleagues in our capacity as officials of the pharmacy students association in the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) chapter.

The training was intense yet seamless. It was deeply enlightening especially for an individual who was budding in this thing we call leadership. Just a month earlier, I had organized an ‘Induction to Pharmacy’ conference at my university. I was badly in need of some training especially in an environment where every participant can identify with the struggles of leadership.

In the course of the training, a presentation was made about an upcoming IPSF African Pharmaceutical Symposium (AfPS) in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I knew I had to be there, if not for anything else, for the wonder of the world venue for this symposium.

I put my mind to it,  worked so hard and sure enough June/July 2014 found me in Zimbabwe. I was thoroughly impressed by the professionalism in the activities scheduled, the social cultural events, the General Assembly and the elections and of course the excursion to the mighty Victoria falls.

I knew deeply within myself that I had to plug into the work of the IPSF. I had experienced first hand the vital role that Contact Persons play in the running of the Federation.  I would vie for the position of the IPSF Contact Person to Kenya during the upcoming elections.

Serving in this capacity was thrilling. It was my year of firsts. Running public health campaigns, responding timely to all the emails that needed my attention- sometimes up to 20 per day, communicating professionally online and in person, Skype meetings, using Google docs, forms, spreadsheets were skills gained. All important skills for any individual in this digital age, yet no school quite teaches you these skills, you learn on the job.

My highlights were; having 30 Kenyan delegates attend the 4th IPSF AfPS in Rwanda, organizing the first ever forum that brought together pharmacy students from all the 6 universities in Kenya that offer a Bachelor Degree in Pharmacy (the annual event is now in its 3rd year) and receiving the IPSF Development Fund Grant to attend the 61st World Congress in Hyderabad, India. For the outstanding achievements, I got the award for the Best IPSF AfRO Contact Person in the year 2014/2015.

I had discovered my life’s purpose in leadership and IPSF was giving me a platform to live it out! I was on such a leadership roll; passion and zeal almost palpable.

My next role would be the most fulfilling yet. I had prepared a bid for KEPhSA, Kenya to host the 5th IPSF-AfPS and upon winning I applied to be the Chairperson for the committee that would organize an event of such magnitude.

Previous hosts had been Algeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Rwanda. It was coming to my homeland, finally! First task was to get team members, then to identify a venue, get speakers, funds, delegates etc. It was such an intricate process for a period of almost a year.

I would look at everything through an AfPS set of glasses. All my friends and family were dragged into the AfPS planning process. I would be randomly walking in town, then I come across something that would feature in the symposium like speaker’s gifts, delegates notebooks etc then I frantically click away and bombard my team members with pictures of the ideas I had. I was in such an AfPS trance and I loved it! Plus with such dedicated team members that journey was truly worthwhile!

The event was held in June 2016 in the coastal city of Mombasa. The theme was: ‘Rewriting the African Narrative in Healthcare :Access, Quality and Innovation’.130 delegates from 10 countries in Africa took part. We had such a great variety of lectures, workshops, social cultural activities, an excursion to Mamba Village and a mentorship session at Allidina Visram High School.

Around that time I was also preparing for my final exams. I completed successfully and graduated in November last year.

IPSF has truly enriched my pharmacy school experience. The 15 semesters didn’t feel too long because I was always doing something on the side – organizing events, traveling etc. It gave me great exposure to pharmacy training and students from across the World. I made so many friends, some of whom now feel like family. I travelled the World from the Country of a thousand hills, Rwanda to the Wonder of the World, Victoria Falls, the Pharmaceutical city Hyderabad, India and finally to one of the few cities that bring together all the nations of the World- Geneva, Switzerland for the 69th World Health Assembly.

Towards the end of last year, I felt I had completed that part of my service to IPSF as I had pharmacy school and as with all the positions I’ve held, I passed on that baton too, to allow for the many other batons that will be passed on to me in various other capacities. I serve subtlely in an advisory role, when called upon to especially by individuals within AfRO.

Looking forward to what the future holds, especially within the healthcare provision space.

Heartfelt gratitude to all my mentors within IPSF, to all the individuals that I got to work with; the 5th IPSF-AfPS Reception Committee, the Regional Working Group 2015/2016, KEPhSA executive 2014/2015 and to everyone that I got to meet through IPSF. We made such great memories that I’ll reminisce for a lifetime!


Editor’s note: Feeling inspired and you want to share your IPSF story with the world too? Write to rmpo@afro.ipsf.org

4 February 2017: World Cancer Day

By Our Regional Projects Subcommittee 

Currently 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year. Out of which 4 million people die prematurely between the ages 30 to 69 years. A report which relied on more than 100 cancer registries in 68 countries from 2001-2010, indicated that approximately 300,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed in children and teens under the age of 19 every year.

February 4th each year the world commemorates the world’s cancer day. Since 2016 it has been running under the tagline: ‘We Can, I Can’ and as IPSF AfRO, this year we will focus on cancer awareness by highlighting the types of cancer, possible causes, signs, and symptoms, and how everyone as a collective individual can be part of such a movement to help reduce the global burden of cancer.

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and abnormal cells. Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named according to the location in the body from which they originate. Eg. lung cancer starts in the lung, and breast cancer starts in the breast. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis.

Types of cancer and their awareness colours

Signs & Symptoms

Type of Cancer Signs & Symptoms
Lung Cancer New cough, hoarseness, haemoptysis, dyspnoea, non- resolving pneumonias, chest wall pain and tracheal obstruction.
Breast Cancer Breast lumps, nipple retraction, dimpling, discharge and skin changes.
Cervical Cancer Abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge, pain during sex and pain in the lower belly or pelvis.


Colorectal Cancer Occult bleeding, constipation, obstruction, and stool caliber.
Liver Cancer Loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, jaundice, pain or swelling of the abdomen, itchy skin,feeling very full even after eating a small meal and general body weakness.
Prostate Cancer Urinary hesitancy, nocturia, poor urine stream and terminal hematuria.
Ovarian Cancer Abdominal pain& discomfort or enlargement, postprandial flatulence, virginal bleeding, early satiety,constipation, dyspepsia and nausea

Risk factors leading to cancer

How you can help to reduce the global burden of Cancer

  • Improve access to cancer care by closing gaps in access to affordable cancer care.
  • Create healthy cities and working environments for example by prohibiting smoking in all indoor workplaces, increasing movement in workplaces through the use of stairs, so as to help build a healthier workforce.
  • Prevent cancer by educating individuals and communities with the latest knowledge of the links between lifestyle and cancer which will in return empower people to adopt healthy choices.
  • Challenge perceptions in societies where cancer remains a taboo and help improve knowledge of cancer where people are misinformed thus overcoming stigma and discrimination among cancer patients.
  • Shape policy change by implementing policies that can be used to minimize exposure to cancer risks including to tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods, as well as environmental exposures.
  • Understand that early detection can save lives since it has been shown that increasing awareness of signs and symptoms and the importance of timely treatment helps to improve survival from cancer.
  • Ask for support by mantaining social networks which can be an important coping mechanism for cancer patients and their loved ones for both in the short and long term.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices by choosing to quit smoking, become physically active and eat healthy food and drinks.
  • Love and be loved by working together with family and friends through the challenges of cancer and never be alone in facing this “giant.”

There’s hope
Though cancer remains one of the leading causes of death and disability globally where it impacts more than 14 million people each year, most of cancer cases can be cured by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy if there is early detection.

Mgambi Gamba Gideon, Mutabazi Claude, Anesu Adilwayo and Geofrey Beingana contributed to this article.

Technology in Healthcare System, the 8th RPSA Annual Symposium Focus

By Fabrice Humura

Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association (RPSA) is organizing its annual symposium slated for 17th-18th March 2017. This year’s inspiring theme falls into the world’s updated system known as technology. The theme is: “Navigating through a technological Healthcare system.”

The symposium happening for its 8th time,  will be held at Galileo Hotel in Huye District. Participants will convene to exchange ideas on how to incorporate technology for an improved health care service delivery.

Unlike other previous symposiums, this one will give room to all health care providers as technology captures everyone’s interest and quicken delivery of the expected service irrespective of the area one may be working at.

Side events will be a top innovation in this upcoming symposium. Participants will choose an event to be part of deep discussions on the topics of interest. This will undoubtedly enhance discussions and interaction among participants.

Participants at the 7th RPSA Symposium.

Moreover, such symposiums gathering multitude of participants does not end with only presentations, but also offering a privilege of networking where people get to know each other through sharing life and career experiences. Networking is normally charmed by the tea break as participants enjoy while getting relieved and a quite delicious food.

In the ICT century, being a student, professional, local or international participant is of less concern when one is eager to be smarter. This symposium will be an opportunity to sharpen knowledge in technology as Rwanda’s developing rate in embracing technology and innovation is loud.

On 14th October 2016, Rwanda became the first country in the world to launch drone delivery programme to transport medical products to remote parts of the country [Zipline Photo].

You can register for the symposium here.

Mr. Fabrice is the 8th RPSA Symposium coordinator.



Studying pharmacy is the best decision I ever made- Meet Aniekan Ekpenyong, FIP YPG Professional Innovation Grant Winner 2016

On October 27th 2016 social media was awash with news that Nigeria’s pharmacist and former IPSF AfRO Secretary, Mr. Aniekan Ekpenyong had won International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Young Pharmacists Group (YPG) Professional Innovation Grant. IPSF AfRO Regional Media and Publications Officer, Kennedy Odokonyero had a chat with him about the research idea that made him win and much more. Here is the excerpt of the interview.

I believe a lot of people out there who were congratulating you on winning the grant don’t know about the research that made you win. So, let us start with your research idea that allowed you to emerge as the best. Can you share more details on it?  

Well, the aim of the project is to analyse the gaps in numbers, distribution and specialities and recommend a 5-10 year plan/policy in preventing a human resource crisis in pharmacy. The research will generate evidence based recommendations to solve the challenge, thereby improving access to medicines, responsible use of medicines and overall health outcomes for the patients/society. This work will generate data and basis for a scale up project on a sub-regional and regional basis, giving evidence for interventions and evaluating short and long term interventions. Results of this research will be the evidence for poor health outcomes in areas of low human resources, advocacy to stakeholders and improved investment in pharmacy education, thus promoting the indispensable essence of the profession and pharmacy professionals within the health sector.

Were you confident that you would win?

Hahaha that’s a tough one. Well, I had given up! The grant was supposed to be announced during the FIP conference in Argentina, but it wasn’t.    

How did you feel after you got the news that you won?        

Stunned! For the whole day, I wasn’t myself. In fact, I lost my appetite to eat. I was just surprised. Everything just came so fast, especially my timeline being flooded with good wishes.   Actually, I hadn’t seen the email. I was called at about 7am and told that I won the grant. Man, waking up to such awesome news? I had to calm myself down and make sense of what happened.

I understand the feeling.

Haha. I bet you do.

On a personal level, what does winning the grant mean to you?   

A deep sense of responsibility especially considering my project topic, and gratitude to God for being chosen.

I didn’t go to a journalism school but you can see my interview skills are on point.😀

Man, it really is!

Lastly, tell me about something readers of this interview don’t know about you. Your family, current work and future aspirations?       

I am the first of two born to amazing parents. I am 23 years old. Studying pharmacy was a personal choice. My parents wanted me to study medicine. I never loved the concept of a hospital. I decided to opt for pharmacy and I think that’s the best decision I have ever made. I graduated in July of this year and that’s when I was inducted to become a pharmacist. I was among the best five or ten students in my class. I currently work as local pharmacist i.e. a part time pharmacist. I am waiting for my internship that will start sometime soon.

My future inspiration is to pursue a master’s degree in global health on issues that are most relevant to pharmacy. I have also discovered a passion in supply chain and health logistics. Basically, I would love to help Africa discover herself in any way I can.

Aniekan during his graduation. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)

You can listen to Aniekan’s love story with pharmacy and IPSF here.

About YPG Grant for Professional Innovation

According to FIP’s website, YPG aims to support young pharmacist members from around the globe who have limited resources for professional organization involvement or their own research. The YPG Grant for professional innovation consists of € 1000 for the implementation of a project by a young pharmacist/pharmaceutical scientist. Projects can stem from any field of pharmacy (pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical science and/or pharmacy education) but should directly or indirectly benefit or improve health of communities and demonstrate the added-value of pharmacy on health. Pending the acceptance of a project report, the Grant recipient may additionally be awarded a complimentary  registration, a return APEX airfare and hotel accommodation. Did you know that the 2017 application is open? Visit http://fip.org/young_pharmacists_group for more details.