Soga Sofola, President, African Association of Physiological Sciences (AAPS)
The African Association of Physiological Sciences (AAPS) organised its “Fourth Physiology Education Workshop” in Kigali, Rwanda, from 2–4 December, 2018. This Workshop was also preceded by an AD Instruments hands on activity on PowerLab and Kura Cloud, on 1–2 December. The Workshop had as its theme “Physiology Education in Africa and Other Resource-Challenged Regions: Reflections on Current Practices and Charting the Way Forward”. The gathering was declared open by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, Phillip Cotton, a Brit resident in Rwanda!
The choice of Rwanda for the Workshop was an attempt to use a country that is in the middle of the African Continent in order to attract a larger audience. Our previous Workshops in Cairo (2013) and Lagos, Nigeria (2017), attracted only the usual four countries – Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan. However, this Workshop had over 70 participants from 11 countries: Benin Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We were also privileged to have amongst us Keynote Speakers from the USA (Dee Silverthorn, Gary Sieck and Rob Carroll), Japan (Nori Kiobuchi), Taiwan (Sam Chan and Julie Chan) and New Zealand (Tony Macknight). We were particularly delighted by the presence of the IUPS President, Julie Chan.
The topics discussed were quite varied and relevant and included items on assessments, curriculum design and novel teaching methods as well as practical classes, encouraging exchanges among African postgraduate students including south-south research cooperation as well as publishing in the Journal of African Association of Physiological Sciences (JAAPS) among others. The Workshop was a mix of Keynote/ Plenary Lectures followed by group assignments and discussions which really encouraged interaction and exchange of ideas, under the direction of our guests and senior African physiologists. The feedback from the participants was positive and encouraging, while our foreign guests were quite impressed with both the attitude and enthusiasm of the participants, our future African physiology Professors. Hopefully, the formation of more National/ Regional Physiological Societies in Africa will increase in the nearest future.
It was not “all work and no play” though – on the first night, we had a well-attended cocktail party with about 80 attendees. The night was electrified by the performance of a dance/theatre troupe from Rwanda, “Intare”, which in Kinyarwanda (Rwandan language) means “Lions”. It was a marvelous display that also attracted some guests to join in the dancing. There was also some city sight-seeing as well as visit to the Rwanda Genocide Museum, organised by our host/LOC Chair, Bosco Gahutu. The last night had the farewell dinner with exchange of pleasantries.
The AAPS would like to acknowledge the donations towards the Workshop from AD Instruments, American Physiological Society (APS), Axiology Labs, Canadian Physiological Society, International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS), Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu Foundation (KAAF) of Nigeria, The Physiological Society (UK) and the Wellcome Trust. The University of Rwanda provided most of the support facilities – venue, multimedia support, conference materials as well as transport facilities for guests. The choice of Nobleza Hotel as the venue, chosen by the LOC, was quite appropriate.