Lab technician of an elevated kind.
Laboratory technicians are taken for granted. They tune the dials to analyse blood samples, press the button on the centrifuge to separate plasma, and take readings from a spectrometer, but they do not enjoy the same professional status as the medical frontline, the doctors.
One individual however, has brought a radical change to the status of Biomedical Technology. The president of the Namibian Association of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Dr Christoph Hikuam recently became the first Doctor of Biomedical Technology.
Dr Hikuam has been the associations president since June 2012. This association serves as the voice of all medical laboratory professionals and is committed to the advancement of the medical laboratory practice through advocating the value and the role of the profession in ensuring effective health care. Hikuam, in his capacity as President, has been instrumental in promoting the important work that medical laboratory professionals do.
Dr Hikuam was born and grew up in Windhoek. After completing his school education at the Deutsche Hohere Privatschule, he studied Biomedical Technology at the Cape Technikon in 1997 completing the National Diploma in 1999, followed by a BTech in 2000 from the same institution. Between 2001 and 2004, Dr Hikuam practiced as a medical technologist in Namibia, before returning to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2005 for his MTech in Biomedical Technology. He graduated in 2007, and registered for the DTech in Biomedical Technology in the same year. After three years of full-time studies, Dr Hikuam returned to Namibia to take up a lecturing position at the Polytechnic of Namibia, while continuing with his studies on a part-time basis.
In 2012, Dr Hikuam founded Namib Health Consultancies and is currently involved in health, environmental and associated scientific services to a number of institutions in Namibia.
For his thesis titled: "Modulation of the redox status, phase 2 drug metabolizing enzymes and fumonisin-induced cancer promotion in rat liver by selected southern African medicinal plants", Dr Hikuam characterised antioxidant contents and capacities of Adansonia digitata, Agathosma betulina, Siphonochilus aethiopicus and Myrothamnus flabellifolius. The in-vitro phase of this work was followed by in-vivo assessments investigating effects of chronic consumption, and possible mechanisms of chemoprevention in a liver cancer model in rats, respectively.
"It has been a long journey! I thank all my family, friends and colleagues who supported me during this endeavour" he said.
Caption: To date, Namibia's only Doctor of Biomedical Technology, Dr Christoph Hikuam.
Please note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.