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Worthy to be illustrated...

THIS column is meant to portray personalities across all fields of life within our country, (apart from politicians! Please do not ask me why!) who are genuinely and striving for the positivity and benefit of our existing communities.

So far, I have already managed to portray over a hundred personalities, who are permanently busy pouring their energy and knowledge for the development of our country.

Unbiasedly, we all agree that the field of medicine needs some additional applause and extra pages of illustrated personalities. Indeed, this is due to their highly recommendable activities, especially if practised by women and girls.

Just have a look at all those top qualified Tanzanians, who are working in the field of medicine, a field of science per se! After all, this week’s Tuesday the 11th, the whole world celebrated the ‘International day for women and girls in science 2020.’

This unique day has been acclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to promote full and equal access to participation in science for women and girls. For decades now, the Sickle Cell Programme which is led by Prof. Julie Makani of Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) has been working to produce top quality health scientists (both genders).

The programme is one of the exemplary platforms in Africa through the integration of health care provision, research, training and advocacy. Both aim to improve the quality of care and life of patients with Sickle Cell Disease in Tanzania. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) encompasses a group of genetic blood disorders which have a high prevalence in Tanzania.

Amongst one of the trainees within this programme is Ms DAIMA BUKINI. She is a third-year PhD student at MUHAS, “I ‘m working on a project that aims to investigate Ethical, Legal and Societal Issues (ELSI) around New-born Screening for Sickle Cell Disease in Tanzania.”

Daima (39) was born in Dar-es-Salaam to Mama Asha Mikidadi Bukini and mzee Athumani Bukini. Though both of her parents did not have the opportunity to go through higher education, her motivation to pursue her career in science was highly influenced by her parents.

“My parents have worked hard to give me and my two brothers the best education and also to support us while going through our studies. They had so much trust in education as a tool that will help us in our future. I am highly privileged to have them as my parents” Ms Daima started her primary school education at Mtendeni primary school (Dar es Salaam) from 1987- 1993.

She then joined Kibasila secondary school for her A-level from 1994- 1997 and Tambaza high Schools for her A-level from 1998-2000. She later joined the University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM), where she graduated with BSc General (2004), majoring in Microbiology and Marine Biology.

“Truly speaking, I struggled a bit to understand what path to take after my first degree. It was until I joined the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in 2007 working in the research ethics committee, that my passion to be part of this new field called bioethics start to grow.”

Then, Daima went on for her Masters in Public Health (at MUHAS) in 2014, before proceeding for another Masters in Bioethics (at the Pennsylvania University, USA) to better develop the skills and have what it takes to be an expert in the field.

While doing her PhD, Daima is also supporting the Sickle cell programme as a lead coordinator of ethics and advocacy which includes patient Engagement. Sickle Cell Programme has offered her a platform to learn, grow and realize her potential while trying to establish herself as an expert in Bioethics.

“I am indebted to Dr Julie Makani and the Sickle Cell Programme team as a whole for the mentorship and support they have offered me for the past 10 years that I have been involved with their work.” Daima started working with Prof Julie Makani in 2010 when she was supervising me for my Masters in Public Health Dissertation.

“I have learned a lot from her, but most importantly the lesson that will always stick with me is to support other women whenever I can to reach their career potential.” The hard-working Ms Daima was also awarded 2018/19 a Commonwealth Scholarship to spend part of her PhD training at University of Oxford, Centre for Bioethics (Ethox).

“I believe the women of our generation have a responsibility to consistently, prove and demonstrate to the young girls who are looking at us that it is possible with hard work, dedication and perseverance, as what women like Prof Makani have done for us.”

The highlight of her experience is working as an advocacy coordinator within the Sickle Cell Program. “As a mother of a child with sickle cell disease myself, I have that obligation to use the few resources that I have access with, to advocate for Sickle Cell Patients in Tanzania.

It is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences that I ever had. Through that, I have been inspired a lot by other women going through similar experiences and learning from patients.”

Back to this week’s ‘International day for women and girls in science,’ the day focused on the reality that ‘science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally agreed goals, including the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

“I am glad my parents did realize this long time ago, and therefore, they truly invested in my beloved field of science! I ‘m going to do the same for my children and hope that many other parents will end up doing the same for their children too!”

I believe that Ms DAIMA ATHUMANI BUKINI is one of those role models for our society. Sure, the lady is worthy to be illustrated.

David Kyungu is a veteran cartoonist, actor, illustrator, journalist, film, radio & TV director/producer based in Dar-es-Salaam. matatizomedia@gmail.com


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