DVC Dr. John Nyiligira reflects on a rewarding career journey he has come to love
R JOHN Nyiligira, MKUR Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Administration, Planning and Institutional Advancement (DVC-APIA), remembers that how he met the MKU Chairman Prof Simon Gicharu in February 2011. The meeting marked a turning point in his career.
“I met Chairman through Henry Musisi,” he recalls. “Haruna Atinda was teaching nursing at Kigali Health Institute (KHI) the same time as I was. He knew me.”
He adds: “I was (also) working at Kigali University Teaching Hospital. Atinda hooked me up with Musisi, who introduced me to Chairman.”
Prof Gicharu asked Dr Nyiligira about gaps in health sciences training in Rwanda. “He asked me if I could help him to mount some health programmes at MKUR,” recalls Dr Nyiligira.
He narrates his experience: “I used to work with nurses. They used to travel to Goma or Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Kabale in Uganda for further training. They would travel there to study over the weekends to upgrade their education.”
He informed Prof Gicharu of this gap.
Says Dr Nyiligira: “I told Chairman only one university offered nursing training in the country, and at Master’s level. No university in Rwanda offered Bachelors in Nursing. I told him there were gaps in pharmacy, public health, nursing and medical laboratory technology at undergraduate level.”
Prof Gicharu asked what was required to mount these programmes.
“I told him: curricula, infrastructure and faculty,” says the DVC. “He told me the curricula would be sent to me. He sent curricula for undergraduate and postgraduate training in nursing, public health and medical laboratory technology.”
Dr Nyiligira adds: “We leased premises in Kicukiro to start offering these health sciences programmes.”
In May 2011, the centre opened with a Diploma in Pharmacy programme. “We started with 11 students from Rwanda Military Hospital,” recalls Dr Nyiligira.
He further explains: “I met the commandant and he had some idea of using pharmacy technicians to support pharmacists. He gave us one nurse to train on pharmacy techniques.”
In September 2011, the centre started offering programmes in medical laboratory (undergraduate upgrading), Bachelors in Public Health and Masters in Public Health.
“I was working with MKU in the evenings and during weekends,” says Dr Nyiligira. “I created timetables and sourced lecturers.”
His efforts did not go unnoticed and the university appointed him the coordinator of health sciences training.
Dr Nyiligira capped a fine year by wedding in December 2011.
When he returned from his honeymoon, the university sent him to Canada for three months for further training.
“I brought in Marete in January 2012 to stand in for me,” recalls Dr Nyiligira. “Humphrey was the in-charge as the Dean. Mwangi was helping.”
Follow-ups from Canada
While still in Canada, he followed up on what was happening at the university campus. I had prepared the timetable and Marete was brought on board full-time to co-ordinate health sciences training. I came back in April 2012 and in May, we started offering the direct entry pharmacy programme and the Bachelors in Nursing (upgrading) course.
That year also, MKU witnessed plenty of developments in health science training. Says Dr Nyiligira: “Dr Suje was brought in in June. Marete was helping me set up nursing. Dr Connie came in on 1 September during the second intake. Dr. Suje was overseeing pharmacy training.”
MKUR continued on its health sciences training journey. “From October 2015, Chairman requested me to join the campus fully and become DVC-APIA. I have remained in that position to-date,” says Dr Nyiligira.