MKU Uses Millions of Shillings to Transform Pharmacy Training in Kenya

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In a significant twist to its epic tale  of success, Mount Kenya University  is investing millions of shillings to  transform its pharmacy training.  MKU, East Africa’s largest health sciences  private university, has enriched its pharmacy degree curriculum and recruited  international faculty to help produce pharmacists who are highly skilled and specialised in industrial pharmacy.

This is a timely shot in the arm for the  region’s economies that are poised for industrial take-off.  East African nations currently import  pharmaceuticals, including simple cosmetics that can be produced in the region with  the right skills and expertise.  For example, Kenya imports pharmaceuticals worth $500 million (about KSh  50.5 billion) per year from India. This is  according to the Health Principal Secretary  Nicholas Muraguri.

Anti-retroviral drugs  imported from India cost the country Sh22  billion every year.  The bulk of such imports can be manufactured in the region if locally trained  pharmacists can bridge the technological  gap that exists between the two countries.  And now, in a paradigm shift, the reviewed MKU Bachelor of Pharmacy curriculum planned to be implemented from  January 2017 will give trainees requisite  skills to make them competent in the industrial manufacture of medicines and cosmetics.

Dr S. Chandrasekhar, the Dean School of  Pharmacy, said the university awaits regu- latory approvals but is optimistic that this  will be granted. He pointed out that the  university is adding to, and not removing  content from its approved and accredited  curriculum.

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The dean, who boasts nearly 38 years’  pharmaceutical industry experience stretch- ing back to 1977 in India, says the univer- sity’s draft curriculum heavily borrows  from the Indian pharmacy training struc- ture which has made the Asian country the  global leader in pharmaceutical manufacturing.  Said Dr Chandrasekhar: “The revised  MKU Bachelor of Pharmacy curriculum  aims to produce pharmacists well equipped  to seamlessly transit from university to the  pharmaceutical and cosmetics manufactur- ing industry.

The university is adopting a  training curriculum heavily inspired by the  Indian model curriculum for pharmacists  while also retaining the clinical training aspects for those graduates who wish to pursue a career in the hospital and community  pharmacy sectors.  “To ensure there is adequate technology  transfer, the university’s management has  recruited several professors from top In- dian universities to join the faculty in the  MKU School of Pharmacy.

The university  has also recruited faculty that has extensive  hands-on pharmaceutical manufacturing  experience in local and international pharmaceutical manufacturing plants to ensure  that the training is practical,” the dean said.  Kenya’s Vision 2030 aims to position the  East African nation as the regional provider  of choice of highly specialised health care  and a “health tourism” giant in Sub-Saharan  Africa.

This vision in part requires a strong  pharmaceutical manufacturing base which  can only be achieved through strengthening  of the local pharmaceutical manufacturing  capacity and human resource through technology transfer initiatives.  Dr Chandrasekhar reveals that MKU  pharmacy students will also receive practical training in formulation of cosmetic  preparations (cosmetology).

They can work  in cosmetic industries or be employed in  the cosmetic manufacturing industry, a  multibillion dollar sector in East Africa.  In addition, the Kenyan cosmetic industry is currently estimated to be worth over  Sh6 billion ($ 59.8 million) and is further  estimated to grow to over 7.4billion ($ 73.7  million) by 2018.

This is according to Euro  Monitor International. It is estimated that  the combined Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania  cosmetics market will hit $231 million by  2018.  He adds that there has been a shift in  pharmaceutical care towards providing  personalised medicine and targeted drug  delivery systems.

“Nowadays, it is ideal to  give doses fit for the individual patient as  opposed to the practice of giving all pa- tients the same dose yet they are unique in  body and physiology,” Dr Chandrasekhar  explained.  The international faculty expected to  spearhead the implementation of the new  curriculum include:  Dr Epaphrodite Twahirwa, PhD: Dr  Twahirwa is a Rwanda/Belgium citizen with  extensive industry experience in East Africa  and Europe.  Prof Ramalingham Rama, PhD, has ex- tensive teaching experience from top pharmacy schools in India.

He will be one of the  key pillars in the technology transfer from  India to Kenya in ensuring that the MKU  Pharmacy graduates are at par in Industrial  Pharmacy training with their Indian counterparts.  MKU’s planned training of Bachelor of  Pharmacy students in industrial pharmaceutics units such as pharmaceutical engineering will make them ready to transition  directly to the industry on graduation.

There will be no need for expensive and  time-consuming on-job training of pharmacy graduates immediately they are employed in pharmaceutical manufacturing  plants.  In addition, the added units such as pharmaceutical medicine will ensure that the  graduates are competent to be employed as  regulatory affairs pharmacists in regulatory  agencies or drug registration departments  of pharmaceutical companies.



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