The University of Nairobi Alumni Association (UONAA) marked another milestone on September 12, 2014 following the launch of the Pharmacy Alumni Chapter. In a well attended and colorful ceremony at Laico Regency Hotel, the alumni and guests welcomed the birth of UONNA Eleventh Alumni Chapter.
The aim of the launch is to bring together all the School of Pharmacy Alumni to further the growth and development of the School of Pharmacy through the creation of a School of Pharmacy Chapter under the larger umbrella of the University of Nairobi Alumni Association (UONAA).
Speaking during the auspicious occasion, the Chief Guest, Dr Moses Mwangi, Acting Chief Executive Officer, The Karen Hospital urged the alumni to team up with the University of Nairobi to complete the Sh2.2 billion Pharmacy Building Project. The state-of-the-art building will improve the School’s learning environment, attract collaborators as well as spur research geared towards attaining Vision 2030. Dr Mwangi noted with regret that scores of Kenyans were seeking medical attention abroad noting it was time the alumni helped the University to produce enough medical personnel to save the country from losing the meager foreign exchange.
He said if the pharmacy and other alumni bring their resources together, they have the potential to make Kenya a ‘destination of medical tourism’ which will create employment opportunities for the youth. In her address the University of Nairobi Chancellor, Dr Vijoo Rattansi saluted the School of Pharmacy for celebrating 40 years of education training. She noted with pride that the alumni of the Chapter include Nairobi Governor, Dr Evans Kidero, recently appointed Kenyan Ambassador to DRC Congo, Dr George Masafu and Dr Paul Mwaniki, Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK). Dr Rattansi said the School has trained over 1,560 pharmacy graduates who are serving in pharmaceutical and other industries. “About 23 have registered as Alumni Life Members and 13 as Annual Members. I urge you all to register as members of the Alumni Association and support the Pharmacy Infrastructure project,” she said.
The Chancellor said the future of the University is in sustainability in order to sustain the increasing demand for higher education and hence the need to set up a University Endowment Fund. “My dream is to make the University Number one in Africa. I urge all alumni to support me and help me make this dream a reality,” she said.
Prof Peter Mbithi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (A&F) who represented the Vice-Chancellor, Prof George Magoha, said the role of the Alumni Association is to establish and enhance a continuing relationship between the University of Nairobi and its alumni. He added that the Alumni Chapters and groups give alumni the opportunity to share skills, knowledge, networks, catch-up with old friends and make new ones. “It also helps to harness the expertise of our alumni and friends to enable collaborations in research and enterprise, careers assistance and improvement of the student experience, as well as building philanthropic support to the University,” he said. He noted that the Alumni Association is the unit mandated by the University to establish strong lifelong relationships with alumni and friends and is responsible for establishing mutually beneficial relationship between the University and alumni.
The UONAA Chairperson, Dr Betty Gikonyo in a speech read on her behalf by Prof R.A. Obudho, noted with satisfaction that for the last nine years the Association has launched 10 Alumni Chapters. They are Range Management, Veterinary Medicine, Human Medicine, Agriculture, Engineering, MBA (School of Business), Journalism, ADD, IDIS and Computing and Informatics. Dr Gikonyo appreciated that the Alumni Chapters are the key pillars of the Association noting plans are afoot to launch the remaining 22 discipline-based chapters. “The Pharmacy Alumni Chapter will be our 11th Chapter and very soon we are going to launch the School of Law, Economics and Dental Sciences Alumni chapters among others. I urge all the alumni of the School of Pharmacy to register as annual, bronze, silver or gold members,” she said.
“As the Association marks 10th Anniversary next year (February 5, 2015), we’ll be marking a decade of progress and transformation. The Executive Committee has accomplished among them being students activities. She said UONAA has given out prizes to best students in colleges to the tune of Sh1 million, procured concrete benches for students to relax worth Sh800,000, Sh11 million towards University Bursary Fund, Sh1 million towards Pharmacy Project and over Sh500,000 towards other worthy causes.
The Dean, School of Pharmacy, Prof A. Guantai who doubled up as the Master of Ceremony, said the launch of the chapter conceded with the School of Pharmacy 40 years’ anniversary (1974-2014). She emphasized that the School of Pharmacy has grown to be a leader in the training of pharmacy professionals, innovative research and provision of quality pharmaceutical services. Prof Guantai revealed that currently the School of Pharmacy is the only facility in Kenya offering degree courses in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
She urged the alumni, partners and collaborators to join hands in building the newborn Pharmacy Alumni Chapter and in making the pharmacy infrastructure project a reality. “The University of Nairobi remains the region’s leading training institution for pharmacists but the training capacity remain low to sustain the growth and aspirations of East and Central Africa and help the countries achieve their health and access to safe medicines objectives,” she noted.
During the ceremony the UONAA presented a Sh1 million cheque to the School of Pharmacy towards the construction of the Sh2 billion building.