…envisions decentralizing cutting-edge specialist medical services
The Simon Mazorodze School of Medical and Health Sciences at Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) opened on March 06, with accomplished medical doctor and researcher Professor Jacob Mafunda as inaugural dean.
The intake of the first group of medical students signalled the progressive decentralisation of medical education in Zimbabwe, with the school being the first institution to offer medical training in Masvingo province.
The medical school becomes the latest of GZU Vice Chancellor Professor Rungano Zvobgo’s flagship projects which also include the presitigious Herbert Chitepo Law School.
The medical school says it aims to produce an all-rounded medical graduate with dual competencies in both conventional medicine as well as a profound appreciation of traditional and herbal medicine in line with the university’s culture and heritage niche.
“This institution will allow us to not just to do research on fundamental health services, but to produce medicines from herbal extracts. Our students are expected to have some appreciation of herbal medicines,” said Prof Mafunda.
He said it was unacceptable that people continued to die of such things as snakebites due to the shortages of anti-venom medication in local hospitals.
“One of our students has already shown interest in studying medicinal extracts which can neutralise the venom of the most venomous of snakes around. We expect to commercialise the product once we have managed to unpack the science behind these herbal extracts,” Prof Masunda said.
He said he was glad that the institution had already began to attract specialist skills from across the country; with an orthopaedic surgeon, a general surgeon, a paediatrician and a gynaecologist being part of the team.
“We are actively looking for other professionals in such areas as radiology and anaesthesia. We have been dreaming wildly about changing health services for the better. Through Mashava Teaching Hospital, we have procured equipment which will allow us to do very current and topical, minimal exposure keyhole surgery called laparascopic surgery.
“We also expect to introduce a novel approach to health services by using the clinical specialists we have to conduct outreach programmes to all the seven district hospitals we have in Masvingo province. That way, we will be delivering specialist services to the districts for at least once per year,” he said.
Outreaches are currently taking place in Bikita districts, with hopes that the programme will extend to other districts soon.
Prof Mafunda said the long-term dream was to establish such cutting-edge specialist health services as diagnostics which include magnetic resonance imaging and computerised tomographic scanning which are currently not available in the province.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened the institution on October 21, 2022, after which the school began the recruitment for its first cohort.