Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Reporter
THE National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has deployed staff to Ekusileni Medical Centre to kick-start the second phase of transforming the facility into a specialist research and teaching hospital.
Cabinet resolved in July last year that post Covid-19, Ekusileni Medical Centre would be transformed into a specialist research and teaching hospital.
The proposed transformation into a specialist research and training institution is a breakthrough for Nust, which will set up a medical school at Ekusileni.
This is part of the Government’s efforts to provide world class training for doctors locally, helping improve the quality of health care delivery.
Zimbabwe has approximately 1,6 physicians and 7,2 nurses for every 10 000 people, making specialist healthcare services out of reach for many.
Nust envisages Ekusileni becoming the crux of medical tourism to generate 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 benefiting from traffic from Zimbabwe as they have better facilities to treat most ailments at affordable costs.
Nust has a vision to ultimately have a highly specialised cardiac, renal and respiratory care (surgical and medical), currently not being offered in the country, and a specialised research centre to tackle communicable and non-communicable diseases at Ekusileni.
The university has been running a Faculty of Medicine since 2005 in collaboration with Mpilo Central Hospital.
In separate interviews yesterday, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said there was no turning back on the policy regarding the establishment of a Nust Medical School at Ekusileni.
“The policy has not changed and it is only a matter of implementation as from the policy point of view everything has been done. There are some practical issues on the ground that are being attended to by Nust,” said Prof Murwira.
“We will be guided by the Ministry in implementing that, but we are moving. The first phase was implemented fully, as a Covid-19 component. We just have to phase in the Nust School, it’s just the practicalities on the ground.”
Nust Vice-Chancellor Professor Mqhele Dlodlo said some workers were already at Ekusileni to prepare for the implementation of Phase 2, which will see the university taking over Ekusileni.
He said Covid-19 had slowed down progress, but was certain that all is on course to establish the much-awaited medical school.
“We have come as far as doing our budgets, plans and everything, we just await a go ahead to start operations. We are working on a five-tier building that will house post graduate researchers to address serious chronic diseases,” he said.
“We are mandated to address that as an academic and specialist hospital. We are talking to partners in the industry that we will work with once we get the actual enabling document to occupy Ekusileni, which is currently serving as a national Covid-19 referral centre.”
Prof Dlodlo said Nust was signing contracts, documents, MoUs and non-disclosure agreements that will enable the smooth operation of the specialist medical school.
“Ekusileni is now a registered hospital and keeps on going through the necessary steps that will enable us to set up our specialist schools. The actual date will be discussed at national level, but we are not seated, we are doing everything in preparation,” added Prof Dlodlo.
Government is in the process of establishing specialist medical schools at four State universities, with the other three being built at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Midlands State University (MSU) and Great Zimbabwe University. – @thamamoe.