The Senior Hospital Doctors Association notes the developments in the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences with great concern; developments which can potentially degenerate into a serious disruption of Health service delivery in the country.
The University of Zimbabwe has unprocedurally removed the chairperson of the department of surgery who still had about one and half years as chairperson and clandestinely replaced him against the provisions of Ordinance 43 which governs the appointment of chairpersons in departments in the University.
Final year medical (MBCHB) students who were supposed to write their examinations in December 2019 but were sent home when the teaching environment had deteriorated because of the incapacitation in hospitals have still not been recalled despite different departments indicating that conditions for teaching have improved.
Paradoxically, the final year class of 2020, which had also not finished its fourth-year studies has now been propelled ahead and is being taught as final year students.
There is no objective justification proffered for this, leaving students and their parents to speculate whether the University is pursuing a vindictive and punitive agenda.
This decision is not in the national interest as it will create an artificial shortage of junior doctors in a few months.
A group of specializing doctors who were due to write their examinations and complete their studies could not do so because hospitals were incapacitated. They have again been left in limbo with no commitment being made towards their cause.
While just under a week ago, news tabloids reported on the open heart surgery training centre that is being set up at Parirenyatwa hospital with the University of Zimbabwe’s involvement in partnership with a South African company, the University has just terminated Dr David Chimuka’s contract again.
He is the lead person and the most experienced heart surgeon in the country who was spearheading the program. He has been dismissed with no reasons provided despite a shortage of cardiothoracic surgeons.
He was the only one of the three cardiothoracic surgeons available who was working for the University. This points to victimization and a vindictive agenda.
The period from September 2019 to January 2020 has been a difficult time in the medical field. Doctors could not offer any meaningful service in the hospitals because of the incapacitation of hospitals which was well documented and publicized.
The situation had begun to improve despite the many challenges still being faced. The regrettable move by the University authorities threatens to cause regression of the little progress made in attempting to restore normalcy.
In seeking clarity, the members of the Department of Surgery of the University of Zimbabwe have suspended their work services with immediate effect as they await the Vice-Chancellor to address them and give redress to the issues of unfair dismissal of their chairperson and the termination of Dr Chimuka’s contract and the appointment of another chairperson in total disregard to the standing ordinance 43 of the University.
The lecturers who are all surgeons, want urgent attention to be given to the MBChB V 2019 group as well as the MMED students so that they can finish their studies since they were affected by circumstances beyond their control.
The Senior Hospital Doctors Association urges the University authorities and perhaps the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education to quickly act to solve the challenges in the College of Health Sciences as this has potential to cause skills flight and more disruption to the health delivery system yet again.
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