It was a jovial mood at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) when the Class of 1973 visited the College on Monday, 17th April 2023. The alumni led by Dr. Joel Okullo were nostalgic about the good times at the Makerere Medical School which they joined in 1969 and graduated in 1973.
The group from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania were representative of members who had studied for the Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery offered at Makerere University College as a constituent college of the then University of East Africa alongside Nairobi University College, Kenya and Dar es Salaam University College, Tanzania.
The meeting was informed that a total of 120 students were admitted for the programme in 1969 however after the expulsion of Asians in 1972 and the instability in Uganda in the 1970s, only 57 graduated and of these 12 have since passed on. They have specialised in various areas of medicine and settled in many countries across the world.
A meeting was held between the visitors and MakCHS leadership including Principal, Deans, Heads of Departments and Administrative staff. In his remarks to the visitors, Professor Isaac Kajja – Deputy Principal, MakCHS who represented the Principal welcomed the alumni to the college. He explained that while in the 1960s and 1970s the then Medical School was only training doctors with admissions of 50 to 100 students; MakCHS is now a college with 5 schools, 29 departments and has a population of 3500 students in various fields including medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, biomedical among others.
‘The college is well known for its research endeavours on the continent and globally. It has expanded with addition of Makerere University Hospital and Dental Hospital; the Government of Uganda is also working on plans to build a new teaching hospital to cater the increasing number of students’, Professor Kajja added. He also highlighted challenges like limited funding and human resource shortages which affect work at MakCHS. Professor Kajja called on other alumni to visit the college.
Speaking on behalf of the alumni, Dr. Okullo said, ‘its very nostalgic for us to be here, we are very grateful to be here and look back on our times while here’. Reminiscing about the time at medical school and professional life of the class of ’73 (many are specialists in various parts of the world), he thanked God quoting Psalm 1:24, ‘What if the Lord had not been with us, where would be’.
Dr. Okullo expressed pride of the visitors on meeting the young generation who manage the MakCHS and great developments seen on the premises. He thanked the college Principal and staff for setting time aside to meet them.
After the meeting, the visitors toured facilities of the college including the Library, Department of Anatomy, Dean-School of Medicine’ office, laboratories and lecturer theatres. The also visited Mulago National Referral Hospital.
The class of 1973 in partnership with Airtel Uganda has offered to provide internet access at all the COBERS sites where students are posted to serve in the communities. The alumni are doing this in recognition of the importance of e-learning, e-medicine, research and internet in today’s professional setting.
*The Community Based Education and Research Services (COBERS) Programme of Makerere University, College of Health Sciences is a Programme that involves the exposure of medical students to the community for the purpose of Research and Project implementation programs. It is beneficial to both the students and the community. Advantages to the students include developing leadership skills and active learning to solve real-life problems. The community is made aware of their health problems through a community diagnosis and subsequent interventions enable them to overcome some of these problems.