Kampala International University (KIU) is preparing to change the way pharmacists are trained in Uganda, by including a practical element.
The institution, which is already building a pharmaceutical firm in Ishaka, will see pharmacists trained in the production of medicines as well as dealing with prescriptions.
According to the vice chancellor in charge of the Ishaka campus, Prof Patrick Kyamanywa, the move will push KIU to the forefront of training the pharmacy programme at university.
“We are working on the infrastructure to ensure our factory complies with the strict standards of the National Drug Authority and other international specifications,” he said.
“We will soon be training students at diploma, bachelor's, master's and PhD levels in this field.”
KIU is only the third institution after Makerere and Mbarara University of Science and Technology to offer pharmacy as a degree programme in Uganda. Prof Kyamanywa explained that the university would start by producing simple tablets like paracetamol (also known as panadol) and some antibiotics.
”Our initial research has seen us embed the active molecule in paracetamol in starch from a banana to make it more palatable to the patient taking the medication,” Prof Kyamanywa said.
“We are also looking at creative ways of making bitter syrups like quinine easier to consume.”
The cautious Kyamanywa added that if all standards are met, KIU’s pharmacists would be able to produce the first drugs in January 2017.
“As of now, we are fairly advanced in our processes, but we are focusing more on meeting the established standards first,” he added.
This revelation comes at a time when the university is in the middle of a massive transition from physical to online learning, where students will access all their materials through a secure computerized system in real time.
According to KIU vice chancellor Dr Mouhammed Mpezamihigo, the move would also transform the institution into the most accessible university in the region.
“Students from as far as Somalia will be able to attend classes conducted in Uganda from their home, without having to be physically available here,” he said.
“We are presently expanding our bandwidth capacity, while our faculty is already training in e-learning and are developing teaching modules for our online platforms.”
The institution has also established wifi and computer capacity at its various learning centres, including the health centres like Kiryandongo, Hoima, Mubende and Ishaka hospitals, used by medical students for practical learning.
Kyamanywa, a medical practitioner, said he hopes this will improve the abilities of the next generation of health workers, as they will be comfortable with e-systems.