Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
Destiny Mlilo started his life-long ambition of being a medical doctor on Tuesday as part of 60 first-year School of Medicine students at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo whose enrolment increased from 25.
Mlilo and his fellow students are studying for a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery at Nust, under the Faculty of Medicine. Under the programme, 62 percent of the students are female and 38 percent male.
The aspiring medical doctors are learning at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Ekusileni Hospital, formerly Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo. The School of Medicine is still housed at Mpilo Central Hospital, but Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Ekusileni Hospital is being transformed into a Nust-run specialist training institution. The latest group of students are the first to be enrolled after the faculty was granted medical school status last year after meeting international standards.
Mlilo was two years old, growing up at Ingwizi Growth Point in Mangwe District, 80KM from Mphoengs Border Post, when the Faculty of Medicine at Nust was introduced in 2005. The faculty would thereafter, per intake, enroll not more than 25 of the sharpest minds from all over the country to study to become doctors.
Since 2005, the university has been under the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council of Zimbabwe supervision.
The last born of three children, Mlilo lives with his parents at Ingwizi while his sisters live with their families in Bulawayo.
He said he was excited to be part of the latest intake of students after attaining 23 points at A-Level at Bhulu High School in Mangwe District.
“Although Bhulu High School had limited resources, especially in sciences, I attained 23 points, as I did, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geography.
“The reason I went on to do sciences at high school and medicine as well as surgery at university, is because I want to be a general practitioner (GP). This is because I feel it will be an inspiration to locals from my area.
What I will do is to show that nothing is impossible, and that the belief that sciences are difficult and are for affluent schools and not for the rural schools like Bhulu High, is not true,” said Mlilo.
He said he wants to go to his community and serve it when he is done with his studies.
“In my area, there are a few doctors. For example, there is one clinic serving a wide area. And the local hospital, Brunapeg has only one doctor. So, with me being in this programme, I feel that I can help lower the patient-to-doctor ratio, by being a doctor and inspiring other rural children to do so,” said Mlilo.
Another student, Asa Mpala, grew up in Bulawayo and learnt at Empandeni High School where she attained 16 A-Level points after she wrote Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry.
She has nothing but praise for Empandeni High School which she describes as a “very good school”.
Mpala said attending medical school has always been her dream.
“This has been my ambition and is something that I always wanted. Being a doctor will mean everything to me because I have lost loved ones, and I have seen people die in front of my eyes. So, I feel there are a few doctors in the country and I want to fill that gap,” said Mpala.
Her classmate, Dezel Toma, who lives in Cowdray Park in Bulawayo, said she is the first child in her family’s lineage that has enrolled to be a doctor.
“My home area is in Chivhu and unfortunately there are some from there who think that girls can’t do sciences and I want to prove them wrong. In my family, I am the only person who is studying to be a doctor ever since. So, it’s a proud moment for my family and my parents,” said Toma.
Toma learnt at Mpopoma High School and attained 17 A-Level points in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Mechanical Maths.
She said her ultimate goal is to serve her community.
“I want to serve the community and not only prove the people wrong. There are a lot of things I can do to help the community through the knowledge that I would have gained at Nust.”
The class representative Daniela Manzini from Gweru said she has been praying and working hard in school for the opportunity to study and become a doctor.
“Every time l was asked what l want to be when l grow up, the easy answer was a doctor, but as l grew up l realised being a medical practitioner might actually be my calling. My desire to help people, my passion for medicine and how l like to help people especially my siblings with their wounds are some of the reasons why l always prayed and worked hard for this day to come. Being admitted into Nust is a dream come true for me,” Manzini said.
She attended Chikumbiro Primary School in Mkoba 6, Gweru and Mkoba 1 High School where she attained 14 points in Mathematics, Chemistry and in Biology.
Manzini said she was inspired by her grandmother and parents.
“My grandmother and my parents inspired me to take up this course, as their hard work and nurturing shaped me to be this ambitious young lady who wants to make them proud.
“As a first-born child, l want to inspire my siblings. Also my friends, churchmates, the young ones from my community and every girl child out there,” said Miss Manzini.
Nust director of communication and marketing Mr Thabani Mpofu said Nust was motivated by a skills audit that showed that there was a 95 percent shortage in the medical field, prompting the institution to upscale training of medical personnel.
He said the approval to increase the medical school intake followed successful assessments by the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (Zimche).
“The entities were satisfied with the quality of our graduates, teaching and learning facilities and teaching staff qualifications and capacity. We are happy that we have doubled our contribution towards Government efforts to reduce the doctor-to-patient ratio,” said Mr Mpofu.