By Patrick Musira in Harare : The University of Zimbabwe College of HeaIth Sciences (UZCHS), in collaboration with the United States government, has embarked on a landmark initiative that aims to improve medical education and healthcare research capacity of the institution.
The initiative, announced last October, was made possible after the College of Health Sciences (formerly School of Medicine), was awarded US$13 million by the US Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Prevention (PEPFAR) for three programme areas over a five-year period. In recent years, as Zimbabwe’s economy went into a tailspin due to political and economic reasons, diminished government support, dwindling faculty numbers and the need to educate greater numbers of students and retain graduates in the face of declining healthcare.
According to the ministry of health and child welfare, the country has failed to retain its trained, qualified and experienced medical graduates who have sought greener pastures – mostly to South Africa, Britain, Canada, Australia and even as far as the US.
The three programmes – the Novel Education Clinical Trainers and Researchers (NECTAR0 programme, and two other linked areas: Cwerebrovascular, hEart failure, and Rheumatic Heart Diseases Interventions Strategy (CHRIS) and the Improve Mental Health Education and Research Capacity in Zimbabwe (IMHERZ.)
Launching the programme take-off, in the capital last week, University of Zimbabwe Vice-Chancellor Professor Levy Nyagura said the project was a testament to the strong commitment and resolve of the government, the UZ and the US to arrest the decline in medical education and healthcare as well as research capacity at the institution.
“The UZ, as the oldest institution of higher learning in the country, is expected to give leadership when it comes to university education – but in the last 10 years we have gone through a rough tome and now it’s time we go back on track,” and reclaim our status as a centre of academic excellence,” he told the over 25 visiting professors from partner US universities. The professors would begin returning after all logistics have been completed, sometime after mid-year.