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Health talk: GZU School of Medicine boon for Masvingo

GZU School of Medical and Health Sciences

Masvingo province recently witnessed the jubilant opening ceremony for one of the best schools of any university in any country, the School of Medicine. The Simon Mazorodze School of Medical and Health Sciences is a faculty that falls under the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), one of the fastest growing universities in the country. The school was named after the great politician and medical doctor, Simon Charles Mazorodze who died in 1981 after a short stint in the Zimbabwean Cabinet. The veteran politician was one of the founding fathers of Zanu PF and is credited for treating comrades during the war of liberation.

The School of Medical and Health Sciences was one of the fastest projects and its completion is a great milestone for Masvingo as a province. It was only 11 months ago when President Emmerson Mnangagwa held a ground-breaking ceremony meant to transform the bushy area into an upmarket piece of land that could be a hub of medical training. Government  should be applauded for standing tall to complete the construction of the Medical School.

Special mention goes to Professor Jacob Mufunda, the dean of Medicine, who worked tirelessly to put everything in order.

Everyone who has passed through University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine appreciates the diligence that Professor Mufunda exhibits in his quest for quality and magnificent results. What I found interesting on the new Medical School is the issue of heritage-based teaching, a phenomenon that will unlock a lot of mysteries and proffer solutions to our country as Zimbabweans. The country has a lot of herbs which are known to cure numerous diseases, but scientific evidence was lacking for many years. The country has potential to synthesise many drugs from the vegetation that we have everywhere in the country. It is natural that when a school of medicine is opened in any city, there should be an automatic upgrading of the health service delivery of that province or district if the medical school is to be regarded as a sound one.

Training of students requires many specialities to be part of the school and these include neurosurgery, internal medicine, cardiothoracic surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, maxilla-facial surgery, general surgery, urology, ear-nose-throat surgery among others.

The availability of such specialities in Masvingo province is a serious development that will transform the entire province and will decentralise health services that used to be found in the major cities only.

The ministry of Health and Child Care now faces a massive task to upgrade the available hospitals as they are now set to become teaching hospitals. Masvingo Provincial Hospital has to be extensively upgraded in order to accommodate all possible specialists who will be involved in the teaching of students, the same way Gweru Provincial Hospital was upgraded when Midlands School of Medicine was opened in 2015.

Masvingo General Hospital, therefore, needs an upgraded Intensive Care Unit, sound theatres that cover all speciality cases, enough admission beds, dental chairs, state-of-the art radiology machines that include ultrasound scans, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, X-rays, sound pharmacies, physiotherapy departments. The biggest asset of any organisation is human resources, hence skilled personnel is key.

With brain drain rampant as it is today, government should put in measures to curb the mass exodus of workers, some of whom will be required to be lecturers at the school of medicine. Motivation is critical to retain critical workers and it would be illogical to run a medical school without the requisite teaching facilities and personnel.

This is the time to improve health service in Masvingo province.  The opening of the medical school should see an urgent facelift and upgrading of the available hospitals and it is not a secret that Morgenster Mission Hospital should also be considered if students’ training is to become smooth.

The Dutch-run hospital has been popular for its ophthalmology unit and for long, many Zimbabweans have often travelled to Morgenster Hospital eye unit to seek treatment.

While the eye unit remains popular, the general infrastructure at the institution is old and in need of refurbishment. The hospital can thus become a teaching hospital as well as it has churned out thousands of nurses from its school of nursing.

The success of the medical school is a natural booster for a robust health service delivery. Everyone should expeditiously work to make Masvingo a success.

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