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SCOMER Newsletter September/ October - 2012 www.famsanet.org

Volume 1, Issue4 | scomer2012@gmail.com

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Medical students with policy makers at Protea Hotel (Uganda)

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Inside: Challenges in medical School; Medical Students tell their stories, Malnutrition a global crisis, The power of medical students, East African Medical students’ Conference and much more ‌.


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Hear our cry o Africa, hear our plea The boat carrying our health is sinking in the open sea We are but children who know not how to swim Our faith is waning, our hope is dim Our tears are drowned in the belly of the ocean Have you not heard, have you not seen When will you arise and respond to our cry Lest you see your future wells run dry.

By Sam Akotiah


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The role of medical students in community transformation th

The day was 16 June 2012, the international day of African child when KIU fraternity under the organization of med-

ical students of KIU western campus braved a 3.5 km distance on foot from KIUTH to Bushenyi primary school Ruhandagazi. The walk dubbed “walk for a disabled child” attracted a total number of 300 participants from different walks of life ranging from pupils, students, lecturers, religious leaders and politicians. All participants donned on blue T-shirts, caps and ribbons. Blue was the color of the day. Prior to the day students mobilized funds from charitable organizations, cooperate bodies, university fraternity, and well-wishers. They also had talk shows on hunter radio and television sponsored by the management of hunter radio and television. This was aimed at creating awareness about disabilities and the need to show concern for the disa-

bled child. Celebrations for the international day of African child started in 1991 after initiation by organization of African unity in commemoration of 700 children who were murdered in cold blood as they marched along the streets of Soweto, South Africa on June 1976, protesting against poor quality of their education and the right to be taught in their native language. Since then, it is celebrated annually to raise awareness about the education of an African child as well as their rights. Why bushenyi primary school? The school is a government funded primary school with a total population of 106 pupils; 2 physically handicapped, 3 epileptic, 20 deaf and dumb, 27 mentally retarded and 54 with learning difficulties. The school has 15 teachers, one of whom is completely blind. It is both day and boarding school but like any other UPE school, it has very limited funding yet surrounded by a poor community. It is located 3.5km north east of KIUTH along Ishaka bushenyi road on Mbarara- Kasese high way. In line with this years’ theme; “The rights of children with disability, duty to respect and protect” bushenyi primary school Ruhandagazi was the ultimate choice for the celebration. The day was very colorful and lively. Medical students, pupils, teaching staffs, lecturers, doctors and invited guest had a good time of bonding. They played various games, ate and drunk soft drinks together as a family. All people were dewormed with albendazole tablets, medical specialist screened the children for various disabilities and medical conditions, gave health education and appropriate referrals for some cases. (Cont. Page 4)


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The outcomes of this event among the many included; Over 300 people braved a 3.5km distance walk for the disabled child, a sign of good mobilization and community concern for the event. Over 100 people were dewormed on that day A total of 15 children, both boarders and day scholars got full sponsorship all through their primary education 3 new children were enrolled to school as the result of the talk shows. Parents of the disabled children received re-usable I tems and special skills and knowledge on how to care for their disabled children Medical students and their staff had a day off from the demanding and stressful academic schedules The community members generally had a smile of hope on their faces and seemingly needed more of such events. Questions to ponder include; Should such designated health days be celebrated in hotels, Boma grounds far away from the common poor yet very needy or should it be at the community (rural setting)? Should a medical student wait to become a medical doctor before contributing positively and actively towards his/her community? What is the co-operate social responsibility of the medical training institutions towards their surrounding communities and to what extent do they practice it. Other than well educated professors, lecturers and doctors, well stocked schools and well equipped hospitals, the best reference text should be the patient who is entirely the member of the community (ideally the boss of the medical doctor). Opejo Pius Medical student (MBChB) KIU, epius311@gmail.com. Kampala International University—Western Campus


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Studying Medicine in Africa Medical school is prestigious and as I have come to know, this phenomenon is universal. Yet this badge of prestige that medical students wear willynilly, is preceded by years of investment in monetary terms and nights of little sleep not for the absence of sleep but due to the presence of the willpower to surmount it. There the gifts of retaining information and reproducing them verbatim or nearly so – the closer the better, an analytical mind and an acute power of observation that medical students must have. Fortunately, all these traits can be acquired. Indeed, even in their absence, financially sound individuals can pay their way into medical school. Whatever the route of entry, if the result is a safe doctor who can help save lives, who cares. Sadly, students from deprived communities are obviously at a disadvantage with only a few exceptionally bright ones lucky to enough to be helped by wealthy individuals or groups will eventually end up in medical school. The cost of medical education is exorbitant. Aside from the fees, there are big books to be bought and longer periods to spend in school as well as the need to acquire medical accessories like the stethoscope. So getting into medical school may be tough, but staying comfortably in there may prove to be tougher. The demands of medical school are exacting. Previously high-scoring students may end up fighting for a pass mark and the joy of seeing your name above the red line, or in the absence of a red line, merely seeing your name can be exhilarating. I believe there are a thousand and one more potential doctors pursuing courses they had no interest in, with the only reason being that they fell short of the admission criteria by just an A or two. Yet when such students are fortunate enough to get into foreign schools they perform very well. Those who can pay for the full cost of study eventually sometimes excel much like those who have to delay their university education by a year. My point is that if governments can find the money and will (the latter more than the former), to establish more medical schools, many more doctors can be trained. With a cost-benefit analysis, governments should realise that there can never be a glut of good doctors. If there ever is, all they have to do is package them and send on the next ship to a foreign land and reap the foreign exchange returns. Since doctors undoubtedly will always be the heartbeat of the health sector, albeit in close harmony with many other people, the earlier efforts at improving and increasing the infrastructure in existing schools and establishing news ones with the aim to increasing enrolment, the better for the continent. On the whole, to achieve all of the MDGs, a healthy workforce is necessary and with specific reference to goals 4, 5 and 6, doctors with enough time for a few patients is a condition precedent. Yet the need for an increase in quantity should not lead to opening the floodgates of admissions since the ailing existing infrastructure will crumble and lecturers will find it hard to cope with the sheer numbers, subsequently leading to a fall in the standard of doctors who will be passed out. So like with many other issues facing Africa, funding will be key. Leaders who will not only see the need for an improvement in the health of its citizenry but will take pragmatic steps at solving them cannot also be overemphasized. GOD BLESS AFRICA Mr Yakubu Natogmah Abukari Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)


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Malnutrition as a major cause of morbidity and mortality with a focus on women and children By Dr. Charles Mugisha Key terms: Children, Malnutrition, Morbidity, Mortality, Women Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) is afflicted by poverty, disease and conflicts. The situation is compounded by disaster, food insecurity and poor governance. Malnutrition on the sub-continent should be viewed in the content of the above ills. Promoting maternal and child health with emphasis on nutrition rhythms with the MDGs 4/5. Malnutrition is a major underlying/risk factor for childhood mortality and morbidity as well as poor maternal outcomes. The cause of malnutrition is multi-factorial in nature and solution is complex. Therefore malnutrition can only be tackled if the causes are known and solved. Malnutrition as a social problem usually arises from social inequality. There are known interventions to manage malnutrition. All that is needed is concrete action to implement the strategies by the respective governments. The paper is available in details Dr. Charles Mugisha is a Consultant Nutritionist Tell: +256(0)756719100 Email: mugishacharles45@yahoo.com


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Sympathy Or Empathy. Africa is the land where ingenuity and creativity are buried under the thick shadow of poverty. It is sometimes unfathomable but when the broad picture is narrowed, it almost always converges to a single focus; lack of empathy. Of no significant relevance is politics to my premise and I will rather stay miles away from such a controversial topic but addressing issues of education, health, etc without politics is not unlike cutting a tree at the stem and expecting it not to shoot again. If our politicians should have an epiphany, I pray it will be this; the importance of human resource to every nation is invaluable. I cannot think of anything that sits on the pinnacle of every sane man’s priority pyramid other than his health. If individuals make up the nation, is it not logical then, to say that a nation’s topmost priority ought to be the health of its citizens? Your health is your wealth (though in reality your wealth determines your health) is quoted here and there and every now and then but this cliché has not really sunk into our very being. When people are healthy they are productive. When they are not, not only are they unproductive but they also prey upon, in Africa’s case, the meager resources available. Many drums are beaten and many policies sung on platforms but the real issue eating away the grass root of Africa is hardly, if ever, pursued practically with the alacrity with which other issues are. It is always relegated to the background. Do we have equal rights at all? One would say yes if such a one has not really been to any village where they travel 30 kilometers on foot to get people to hospital. Some will argue that such places do not have pliable roads. I agree but how different will it be if the sick person was a president’s mother? I am not trying to spark any disceptation but merely bringing to the fore the fact that the life of one should not be more important than another. I cannot imagine a sick father who goes to the hospital and leaves his sick child to die with the excuse of not having enough money. Yet it is the norm in Africa. This is where fathers (leaders) take the best part of the meat (healthcare) and give the reject to the children. Perhaps, I could outline ten or more causes and solutions to the problem of our healthcare system. I will be applauded and lauded for my effort. But Africa does not need any more policies or anything that has to do with paper. It needs its leaders to cut down their ‘privileges’ for the sake of that child in the village’s right to health. Many are dying everyday from preventable diseases and many more from treatable diseases but as long as it is happening 500 kilometers away from the parliament house (this is where their fate is decided), there is no cause for alarm. No wonder we are struggling with rural urban drift. Human life is not something we should be debating over. We should value it above everything and stop bartering it for our personal comfort. The life of Africa is in our hands. Too much lip service, to much ‘me and my family’. People are dying, people are helpless. Let us do what we have to do before we do what we want to do. A single mosquito net will be of immense benefit to that pregnant woman in the village than a ten-paged verbose speech. Let us walk a mile in the shoes of that man blinded by cataract other than driving around everyday in state provided vehicles. They do not need sympathy but empathy. It was Carlyle who said; the work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green. We are Africans, we are brothers and sisters and we are one. Let us unite if not for anything at all for the betterment of our healthcare system since our very lives depend on it. By Sam Akotiah (samakot@yahoo.com ) Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)


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1st East African Medical Students’ Conference and General Assembly

Registration Fee: Undergraduate: 100,000 UGX [National] or $100

FAMSA will be holding the first East African Medical Students’ Conference in Uganda at Kampala International University - Western Campus on 17th-22nd September, 2012. The General Assembly and conference is the 1st of its kind in East Africa under the leadership of FAMSA and is a great opportunity to reach out to as many medical students and health professionals as possible to make a positive impact on the health situation in East Africa, Africa and world at large. “We believe that the activities we have planned for the General Assembly and conference will go a long way towards equipping us to effectively tackle the problems currently facing us.” says the Conference chairperson, Juuko Abdu. This will also help medical students, to further their aim of improving the health situation in East Africa by knowing what is necessary for the promotion and provision of quality and equitable health care in East Africa. THEME: Promoting the Quality of Health in Africa Sub Theme

[International] Others: 150,000 UGX [National] or $150 [International] By Ephraim Kisangala (ephraimkis@gmail.com)

RESEARCH WORKSHOP AT KIU WESTERN CAMPUS As a boost to the upcoming East African Conference, SCOMER organized a research workshop at Kampala International University. This was meant to enlighten students about their roles in conferences and how to achieve the best from professional meetings. This was spiced with presentations on developing research proposals, abstract writing, preparing manuscripts and publication of research work. The workshop was facilitated by authorities in research such as Assoc. Prof. Ahmed Adedeji

1. Health policy development and Service Management in Africa.

(Lead guest Editor, Journal of Tropical Medi-

2. Mapping the health research landscape

cine), Assoc. Prof. Yusuf Sadiq (Deputy Vice

3. Health and nutrition in East Africa 4. The burden of mental illness in Sub Saharan Africa

Chancellor, KIU), Prof. Wilson Byarugaba

5. Role of Family planning in improving maternal and child health.

(Geneticist) and Dr. Agwu Ezera (Ph.D, FAS-

6. New Approaches in Management of HIV infection/AIDS, TB and

AFRI).

Malaria 7. The increasing burden of Non communicable diseases Sub Saharan Africa 8. Challenges of Primary Health Care 9. Health insurance systems in East African countries. 10. Innovations and advances in health; Africa where are we? 11. Medical students; The advocates for a healthier Africa

This single day event took place on Thursday 28th June, 2012 and it was organized in conjunction with Association of Medical Students; KIU (AMSKIU) and The School of Postgraduate Studies, KIU - Western Campus.


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A LITTLE PROBLEM “Reading makes a man”. That was the motto of the Readwide club, a club I belonged to while in basic school. Those were the days where we forged to find as much obscure information about our environment and rattle it to playmates as part of our fun activities. Whether an important event or just some random factoid, reading helped improve our knowledge of the world around us and we were happy to know that we were indeed learning. Looking back, it is quite surprising that most of the books I read as a child were not about my own culture or people. The fairy tales I read bore no resemblance (except for the moral lessons implied) to the exploits of Kweku Ananse that I heard from my grandparents and finding written copies of these stories may prove an impossible mission. It appears this phenomenon cuts across all facets of written literature be it folktales or the latest technological advancements and this in my opinion may be due to the lack of recognition and support for research in many African societies. In the preparation of various budgets, whether in institutions or national campaign, hardly any consideration is given to research that would generate knowledge by Africans, for Africans. Malaria for instance has plagued the human race for many centuries and various cultures have had their methods for curbing the disease. However, whiles the active ingredients of malarial remedies of other nations have been isolated (such as artemisinins discovered by the Chinese), those of many indigenous African remedies are unknown. It is also saddening that record keeping is not very good either, and in places where an effort is made to keep good records, recovering the data is tedious and time consuming. Records of the nutritional proportions of our indigenous foods for instance, is it best guesswork or a very intelligent supposition, considering that the primary research was conducted on crops of foreign origin. In the health sector, research, good record keeping and the subsequent data analysis is essential for providing proper healthcare. Knowledge of the endemic ailments, social attitude and behaviors as well as the efficacy and side effects of various medications go a long way in helping health care professionals diagnose and properly treat illness. Without proper research into the mean values of physiological ranges such as blood sugar and ionized calcium, doctors and other health personnel have to rely on the values of their western counterparts which may not be accurate with respect to an African’s health status. Finding answers to our own challenges through research will help curtail most our problems and probably prevent future difficulties. Let us also remember that in the absence of new knowledge, the next generation will have to resort to the knowledge and literature handed to us by our predecessors and thus, we would have played almost no role in making them any better men and women than we are. Let’s also continue to read and explore. There is some truth in the saying, “reading makes a man”. Raymond Kwame Amoah (thextremerey@yahoo.com) MBCHB 1 Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) - Ghana


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Further Herbal Possibilities to Reduce Fever 1. Lemongrass Tea: Cut 1 lemongrass finely and bring it with 1 cup water to boil. After 10 minutes filter and drink. Benefits: Reduces fever and the essential oil of them works against Candida species (Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida krusei, Candida parapsilosis, and Candida tropicalis) and Aspergillus fumigatus. Also it works anti-bacterial against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 2. Ginger Tea: Cut 2 to 3 thick slices ginger finely, bring to boil with 1 cup water. After 10 minutes filter, add some lemon juice in it and drink. Benefits: Reduces fever and works against several infections. 3. Mango Leaf Macerate: Cut 2 to 3 leaves finely, soak it over night in a cup cold water. Now bring the mixture to boil, filter and drink. Benefits: The compounds of mango leaves reduce fever and have an antibacterial effect against pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Pasteurella multocida, Salmonella pullorum, Bacillus erysipelatos-suis, Staphylococcus aureus, Riemerella anatipestifer and streptococcus. It works against herpessimplex virus, hepatitis B virus and it has a curative effect on chronic bronchitis. 4. Citrus Juice Garlic Mixture: Mix 1 clove of garlic in citrus juice (preferred are whole lemon, orange) in the blender. If available add one or two pinches cayenne pepper, it increases immensely the effectiveness of garlic on the immune system. Benefits: Garlic and Cayenne pepper reduces fever. Also whole lemon juice (rich in essential oil) helps to reduce fever as well. By Mirko Albrecht, NC. Email: albrechtnaturalhealing.nc@googlemail.com Web: www.healingrecipes.ws


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UNIVERSITY PROFILE Kampala International University (KIU)- Medical School The medical school is found at KIU’s western campus (Bushenyi, Uganda) at the foot of the Western rift valley. It was started in October, 2004 and has so far produced 192 doctors. The first batch was sworn into the profession in 2010. The MBChB programme is a 5 ½ year course. Other courses offered at the western campus include; Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Biomedical sciences. The campus has students and staff from several countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Somali land, Zambia, South Africa, Spain, Pakistan, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon etc VISION: To become the largest Medical Institution providing quality academic and health services in Western Uganda.

Roadside view of the KIU- Teaching Hospital

MISSION: To respond to the community needs by providing health service delivery to improve and develop the healthy standards in the environment and the region.

KIU teaching hospital started collaborating with the government on 16 October 2004 in effort to promote the campaign of educating more Nurses, Pharmacists and Doctors in Uganda. th

It is comprised of the following fully functional departments: GOPD, IPD, Accident and emergency, Dental Surgery, Opthalmology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediartrics, Medical ward, Surgical ward, Psychiatry ward, Diagnostics, Intensive care and mortuary.

Pioneers taking the oath

The President of Uganda and the President of medical Council (UMDPC) tour the hospital


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SCOMER is one of the five standing committees under the Federation of African Medical Stu-dents’ Association (FAMSA) and functions mainly to promote medical education and research among medical students in Africa. The new team involves students from several universities across the continent. Established in 1968, the Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations, FAMSA, is an independent, non-political Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (MSA’s) in Africa. FAMSA was founded to foster the spirit of friendship and cooperation among African medical students.

In our next Newsletter, Theme: Mental illness Articles and news on mental health The East African Medical Students’ Conference report in brief. Other Student activities And much more ….. Deadline for submission: 10th October, 2012


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Contact us: scomer2012@gmail.com Or scomer@famsanet.org www.famsanet.org


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