Saturday, October 10, 2015

Kigali III... And Now

Tuesday was business as usual as we received lectures from Ms Marshall Dozier, Ms Beatrice Niragire, Dr. Jenna Fyfe and Professor Michael Thrusfield. Professor Thrusfied continued his educative lectures on Basic statistics and Epidemiology with a core focus on observational studies.

Afterwards, Jenna gave a very fun and interactive talk on "Dissertations - students and supervisors". Together, we had detailed discussions on the expectations of respective dissertation students and supervisors during the dissertation year especially as an ODL student. Here, she gave us various advices and tips on establishing and improving our relationship with supervisors that will aid considerable progress in our respective dissertations and projects. She also shared some of her experiences as a dissertation supervisor and even invited one of her previous project student to share his experience when he worked with her on his dissertation.

Marshall then shared tips with us on dissertation and referencing. She was joined in this talk by Ms Beatrice Niragire, a Librarian from the University of Rwanda, who interestingly specializes in Public Health online resources. So together, Marshall and Beatrice gave an enlightening presentation with practical demonstrations on utilizing library resources, literature search, organization and referencing. Lest I forget, Marshall left for Edinburgh the same night as she had official duties to attend to at  UoE. We all gave her warm goodbye hugs and took beautiful goodbye pictures.

Marshall and I

Marshall and some GHA Summer School participants - Time to say goodbye...

Photo credits: Yusuf Alimi and Kikiope Oluwarore

The day ended way beyond schedule and I was left with no choice but to get some well-deserved rest and attend to some personal and official business. However, some of us went for a fun night-out at an Italian restaurant in the city.

And there went another #GHAKigali experience.

So, a little dish on the present….
This session has been an interesting and speedy one so far. Maybe because I am taking a total 6 courses throughout the duration of the session, everything just seems to be so short and so fast.  Currently, I have a new tutor and my previous tutor is the coordinator for my current course - Zoonotic diseases. Zoonoses is a field I am particularly interested in because of its relevance to my educational background, career, my country and other sub-saharan African communities.

We have been given our term assignments, the format of which frankly took me aback at first. In this assignment, we have been presented with a hypothetical call for application for funding of a research project on a selected zoonotic disease. Each of us would submit an application to the to the hypothetical Trust and then undertake a guided peer-reviewed assessment of each others’ application.  Though, I was initially surprised at this assignment format is not som, I quickly realized that this was a real-life scenario presented before us. At some point in our career, most of us would be required to apply this knowledge. Infact, as researchers, scientists, academicians, clinicians, public health and development workers working in our various fields and questions in the health sector, this was an aspect that none of us could avoid in our profession. And I got to really appreciate the ingenuity of the course supervisor in using this to challenge our thinking and helping us to make resourceful use and application of the knowledge that we are acquiring.

.... Until next time!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Something about Kigali (II)

Monday at the Hilltop Hotel, Kigali Rwanda started on a very cold note (for me coming from the tropics). I headed out just in time to grab a quick breakfast before heading to our seminar room at exactly 9:00am. By now, almost everyone (including participants and GHA officials) were seated. Later that morning, we would have ODL students from Kenya and another from Uganda arrive for the summer school. 

The day started with a warm welcome from the Summer School organizer, Lisa Wood, who we all later agreed was one of the most organized person in the world!  Afterwards, we all a good time introducing ourselves (all 20-something of us) giving short details on our course of study, area of work, countries and a little bit of fun-facts here and there.

Dr. Liz Grant then gave a welcome speech in which she reiterated the need for a multi-disciplinary one health approach to solving Global health challenges; a core focus of the Global Health Academy, University of Edinburgh. She also discussed the newly established Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which she mentioned as a very core part of our lives as students and health professionals, as we work to make the world a healthier place for all. She also chipped in a short note on her passion/work in Palliative care and gave a brief introduction on Dr Mhiora Leng, our upcoming keynote speaker for the welcome dinner coming up later that evening. Generally, I found Dr. Grant’s speech quite moving and inspiring especially when she got to the topic of Palliative care and medicine. I had never given the subject that much thought until then and at that point, it suddenly became more meaningful and important to me. 

A short coffee break followed and then we had Professor Michael Thrusfield lecture us on some basics in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Of course, this was not the first time any of us had any encounter with Epidemiology and basic statistics but apparently, a good number of us had struggled with it in the past. However, Professor Thrusfield was such a patient and detailed teacher, as he took his time to start from scratch and give us building foundational blocks on Epidemiology and Biostatistics. We had frequent short practice times which were very helpful in applying our understanding of the topics. I met with him after the class for further explanation on some problems I had with the topic and he was indeed obliging.

After lunch (and lots of networking!), the sweet soft-voiced Ms. Marshall Dozier handled an interactive session with us where she spoke on tips and tricks of Literature search as a student of The University of Edinburgh. Ah… we learned so many erstwhile unknown tricks ranging from the use of Mendeley and endnotes to organization of files to accessiing full text of abstracts in journals etc. it was altogether a cohesive and interactive learning experience and Marshall was ever so patient to answer all of our questions.

This ended our session for the day but there we still a social event to later in the evening – the welcome dinner!

The Welcome dinner was one of the Summer School highlights for me. Now, without exactly planning it, Yusuf and I came dressed up in our traditional Nigerian attire. This caused quite a scene and in all modesty, I guess it added some color to the overall social gathering. After the initial networking session, Mhiora Leng was invited to give her speech on Palliative care and medicine. In the speech, she gave us some insights into her work especially in Uganda and around East Africa. She enlightened us on the need to promote Palliative care and institutionalize it in health systems in African communities. She also explained that Palliative care takes into consideration the emotional, spiritual, psychological and socioeconomic factors of health-care especially in cases of terminal illnesses. It was quite impactful and I am sure that everyone who listened had one or two key points to take away. I did.
 Yusuf and I in our ethnic Nigerian attire 

Excerpts from "Auld lang sang "

Picture credits - Charity Waweru

Thereafter, to keep the “party” going, we had song presentations from each table representatives. James Akoko taught us an interesting Kenyan folk song, I presented (after some “sabotaging”) a Yoruba song from my native Nigeria and Mhiora gave a nice rendition of an English song. Thereafter, Mhiora made us form a big circle (“….. like your mother’s cooking pot” - as said from my place in Nigeria) and we sang “Auld Lang Sang” while doing the accompanying Scottish dance. 

Later that evening, I thought, even though I was slightly frustrated with the hotel for their somewhat erratic internet connection and for the hot water tap that kept gushing out cold water, I was still glad to be in the beautiful city, Kigali.

.... Till the next series of #KigaliSummerSchool, Ciao!