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Trailblazers

Dr. Mugambi Mbaya – Pharmacy and Tech

Today, in the trailblazers’ corner, we have an opportunity to hear from Dr. Mugambi Mbaya, a pharmacist in supply chain, health technology and data science.

Background – education

 

I went to Utumishi Academy for high school, where I got my high school diploma. One of my favorite subjects was computer studies – I graduate as one of the top students. This led to a scholarship for a short course in mobile programming at the e-mobile Institute of Technology. However, my path shifted when I ended up in pharmacy school.

Fast forward 10 years, and I’ve found a unique niche that combines pharmacy with technology. I’m now pioneering the use of drone technology to deliver healthcare supplies, aiming to revolutionize the healthcare supply chain and logistics. Embracing technology in healthcare is crucial, and the sooner we do it, the better.

What inspired you to pursue a healthcare career?

Most of my relatives are in healthcare including my dear mother. It was a choice that was largely influenced by the people around me. With time, I have come to appreciate the choice based on the impact I have observed in practice. Without health, everything else falls apart.

Share a pivotal moment or experience that solidified your decision to enter your field.

Apparently, as a pharmacist, I have worked in the blood supply chain space i.e. as a consultant for the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service. I noticed the long turn around times of blood requests from blood banks to facilities. Blood is an emergency product and lack of access to this product means fatality. One of the solutions we currently have is the use of innovative technologies i.e. drones to reduce the turnaround times and save lives. Same with all other healthcare commodities, lack of proper supply chain systems leads to poor healthcare access and the results are devastating.

Most of my relatives, including my dear mother, are in healthcare. This greatly influenced my career choice. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate this decision, especially seeing the impact healthcare professionals make. Without health, everything else falls apart.

One pivotal moment that solidified my decision to stay in this field happened while I was working as a consultant for the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service. I saw firsthand the long turnaround times for blood requests from blood banks to medical facilities. Blood is a critical, emergency product, and delays can be fatal.

This experience drove me to look for innovative solutions. One promising technology we’re exploring is the use of drones to speed up delivery times and save lives. The same issues affect other healthcare commodities—poor supply chain systems lead to inadequate healthcare access, with devastating consequences. This realization has reinforced my commitment to improving healthcare logistics through technology.

Professional Insights

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your profession?

Knowing that I’m part of a team solving real-world problems and directly impacting people’s lives is incredibly rewarding.

How do you stay updated with your field’s latest advancements and trends?

I often read a lot online, especially on professional sites like LinkedIn. I also enjoy taking short courses on interesting topics within my field from time to time.

Can you share a challenging situation you encountered in your career and how you overcame it?

Fitting into traditional pharmacy roles has never been my focus. I’ve always looked beyond to see what the future holds. I’ve been flexible in the roles and organizations I choose, aiming to absorb as much knowledge as possible and explore different ways of thinking about problems.

Impact and Contribution

Describe a project or initiative you’ve been involved in that you’re particularly proud of.

I have several but the major one is on reforming Kenya’s Blood Supply Chain Systems. I was a key part of the team that developed the policies and guidelines now adopted by the Ministry of Health.

How do you envision your profession evolving, and what role do you hope to play in this evolution?

The pharmaceutical supply chain will be tech-powered with the upcoming need to use data to make informed decisions and the use of predictive tools (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning). I am a big advocate of pharmacists adopting tech skills and will probably start offering course works around this topic.

Advice and Guidance

What advice would you give to aspiring pharmacists/dentists/medical officers/Nurses?

Think outside the box, curve a niche for yourself and make sure you are good at what you do. This will require patience and self-awareness.

How do you maintain a work-life balance in a demanding profession?

It’s hard to maintain a work-life balance, especially at the very beginning of your career. However, I like to set aside pockets of my time to reflect and eliminate low-value projects that I am handling.

Personal Reflections

Outside of your profession, what are your hobbies or interests?

I like watching movies, personal journal/life reflections, and adventure.

Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself that your colleagues may not know.

I once tried to become a professional body builder.

Any final thoughts or messages you’d like to share with our readers?

In all your endeavors, put God first.

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