Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT is in the process of establishing specialist medical schools at four State universities, with the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) already recruiting critical staff to take over Ekusileni Medical Centre.
Other specialists’ medical schools will be built at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Midlands State University (MSU) and Great Zimbabwe University (GZU).
This is part of Government’s efforts to provide world class training for doctors which will in turn improve delivery of health care in the country.
In July last year, Cabinet resolved that post Covid-19, Ekusileni Medical Centre, will be transformed into a specialist research and teaching hospital.
The proposed transformation of Ekusileni Medical Centre into a specialist research and training institution is a breakthrough for Nust that wants to set up a medical school.
The university envisages Ekusileni becoming the crux of medical tourism that may generate much needed foreign currency for the country and provide essential services for locals at affordable costs.
Medical tourism results when foreigners visit a country for medical services.
India and South Africa are among the countries that are benefiting from traffic from Zimbabwe as the countries have better facilities to treat most ailments and usually charge less.
Nust has a vision to ultimately have a highly specialised cardiac, renal and respiratory care (surgical and medical), that is not being offered in the country, and a specialised research centre to tackle communicable and non-communicable diseases at Ekusileni Medical Centre.
Nust has been running a Faculty of Medicine since 2005 in collaboration with Mpilo Central Hospital.
Nssa marketing and communications executive Mr Tendai Mutseyekwa has previously told Chronicle that the parastatal intends to equip the hospital with modern state-of-the-art medical equipment that will be used for the training of specialist doctors.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the building of specialist medical schools in the country is one of the revolutions that his ministry is undertaking.
Nust has already started recruiting critical staff to take over Ekusileni Medical Centre, which has been designated a specialist medical school post Covid-19.
“Nust must contribute to a specialist hospital. We are also having this programme of specialist hospitals as part of our innovations.
“Nust will be a resident provider of specialist services, as well as teaching, because teaching hospitals are the specialist hospitals. I’m humbled by the progress that we have made, the co-operation, the one Government approach we have done with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare,” said Prof Murwira.
“The infrastructure is owned by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) and we now have an agreement that makes sure that Nust is the one that occupies the teaching and research service of Ekusileni Medical Centre but as we go on this becomes a fully-fledged specialist hospital.”
He said Government is also making inroads towards the development of other training centres at three other universities.
“We are building a specialist hospital at the UZ, at MSU, we are building as part of the innovation, a huge pathology centre where we would study all sorts of diseases as reagents,” said Prof Murwira.
“At GZU we are building infrastructure for the GZU Medical School. So, this movement that we are making, we have been very quiet but progressing. These things are happening, it’s not what we want to do.”
He said experts and students in his ministry are gaining confidence in what is expected of them hence the innovations being engineered by the sector.
“Despite the disruption of Covid-19, our universities have remained resilient and are doing their best to make sure that our vision 2030 is met. It’s the human capital that makes the country tick, if we get it right with the human capital, we will make it to the promised land,” he said.
Zimbabwe Medical Association president, Mr Francis Chiwora said increasing specialist medical training institutions will improve health care delivery in the country.
“Specialists are needed in all various fields of medicine. If we can have specialists spread throughout the country, then our health service delivery is going to improve.
“I’m a gynaecologist and if we have more gynaecologists, anaesthetists, physicians, surgeons in the periphery like Binga, then our health service will improve. Patients would not need to come to Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals to conduct surgeries because specialists will be resident in those areas,” said Mr Chiwora.
He said UZ was the only medical school providing specialist medical training.
Mr Chiwora said regional bodies such as Eastern and Southern African colleges (doctors without borders) were providing specialist training in the country.
He said the increase in the number of specialist doctors would decongest the major hospitals. – @nqotshili.