When you come across Dr. Elizabeth Wangari Itotia, don’t let her down to earth demeanour fool you. She is the first female radio pharmacist in the country. Radiopharmacy also referred to as Nuclear Pharmacy is a pharmacy profession speciality focused on the appropriate use of radiopharmaceutical drugs.
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The goal is to improve patient care by ensuring quality and safety in preparing and dispensing radiopharmaceuticals for therapy and diagnosis. She has a few more accolades on her shoulders. She is the valedictorian of the University of Nairobi class of 2017 and currently works as a pharmacist in the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH).
Dr. Itotia was ecstatic when she received a call from KUTRRH that detailed she had been hired for the pharmacist position. Little did she know that a few days later, she would get an offer for a fully sponsored masters scholarship from International Atomic Energy Agency.
Torn between a great fulfilling job, and an opportunity to advance her education, Dr. Itotia opted to take the job for the time being in a premier healthcare facility in KUTRRH. Her dream to pursue the Masters in nuclear pharmacy was however rekindled during induction at KUTRRH. The management emphasized The Hospital’s mission for clinical excellence, medical training and research, particularly in the area of early cancer diagnosis.
Armed with this knowledge, Dr. Itotia approached the administration, with a proposal to pursue the Master’s degree in nuclear pharmacy at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in South Africa. After careful deliberation, the Hospital Board approved her proposal.
She could not get used to Pretoria’s hot climate. Being far away from home was another challenge that plagued her during her stay in South Africa. However, the challenges didn’t deter her from pursuing her education goals. Moreover, she was witnessing first-hand the positive impact of public comprehensive cancer care on patient outcomes in South Africa.
Having completed her classwork, Dr. Itotia has resumed working in KUTRRH. She is eager to apply the sea of knowledge and skills she’s learned working and studying at the Nuclear Medicine Centre. Her skills will come in handy in the running of the upcoming Integrated Molecular Imaging Centre (IMIC) to promote quality patience centred cancer care, particularly in regards to early diagnosis.
Dr. Itotia is deeply thankful to the Chairperson of the Board, Prof. Olive Mugenda, the Hospital Board, Management, and the Directorate of Training & Capacity Building for the opportunity to serve at KUTRRH and to train as a pioneer radio pharmacist in the country.
By Erick Gichuru – Web & Media