The suspension of the University of Zimbabwe master’s degree programmes in medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology have been lifted following a lengthy engagement between the contrite doctors and Health and Child Care Minister Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga in Harare yesterday.
The classes were suspended last month after an industrial action.
The master’s degrees are the post-graduate qualifications needed to become a registered specialist and involve both clinical training under supervision within a hospital and theoretical studies.
There was an euphoric atmosphere when VP Chiwenga told the apologetic doctors in pursuit of specialist training that they could resume their studies.
“Go back to school and study hard, and complete your programmes. The nation is looking forward to the professors among you. Don’t destroy your country. It is a gift from God. Keep it safely. I heard what you said, and I heard what Dr Mangezi said on your behalf,” said VP Chiwenga.
In his deliberation, Vice President Chiwenga underlined the centrality of dialogue in solving issues, no matter how complex.
There could never be any achievement in haggling or fighting, VP Chiwenga reiterated adding that without communication industrial actions, which he called “primitive”, would find traction.
The 39 doctors present, represented by the University of Zimbabwe’s Health Professions Education chairperson Dr Walter Mangezi, Dr Nigel Dzvanga from the Medicine class, and Dr Maxwell Chimhina and Dr Yemurai Bikwa of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, expressed contrition for their industrial action, appealing to Vice President Chiwenga’s good heart.
Presenting the doctors’ case, Dr Mangezi underscored the nature of the programmes that the postgraduate medical students were pursuing, saying they were repentant, and would do all they could as responsible citizens. The doctors were looking forward to being given a second chance as some of them were only a few months shy from their final examinations.
Dr Dzvanga, based at United Bulawayo Hospitals and representing the Master of Medicine class appealed to VP Chiwenga to allow them to return to school and complete their studies. Mutare Provincial Hospital’s Dr Chimhina from the Obstetrics and Gynaecology group echoed the same sentiments, saying their examinations were scheduled for November.
Obstetrics and Gynaecology aspirant specialist Dr Bikwa, who is stationed at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, indicated that as doctors and citizens of Zimbabwe, they regretted actions on their part that led to the impasse, and sincerely apologised for their misdemeanours as young people.
“It is our wish together with Government, to improve healthcare delivery for both rural and urban communities in Zimbabwe. It is our wish to be part of the national vision to achieve the millennium goals for health,” said Dr Bikwa.
Not taking anything away from their professionalism, he implored doctors to adhere to ethical tenets of their calling, which place them in high esteem among citizens.
Because an investment in health is an investment in security, VP Chiwenga pointed out, the need to continuously engage in the pursuit of knowledge could not be overemphasised because diseases as is the case with highly contagious Covid-19 are relentless.
Calling on the remorseful doctors to respect the sanctity of life and the sacredness of the nation of Zimbabwe, VP Chiwenga stressed the essence of compassion and self-dedication where every citizen has to make a sacrifice, and liberties and freedoms are respected.
The doctors thanked VP Chiwenga for affording them a chance to prove themselves and contribute to the development of the country.
On their behalf, Dr Chimhina said: “We are really grateful to Honourable VP Chiwenga, who is the Minister of Health and Child Care for responding to our plight in the shortest possible time, and allowing us to resume our studies.
“It was the first time for us to have a one-on-one meeting with him.
“We are happy that we are going back to our studies, and finish our programmes, so that we will be able to go back to serve our people in the communities, starting from the grassroots.
“Errors have been made and lessons have been learnt. We are now prepared to go back to our programmes, work hard and keep our eyes on the balls so that we will be able to serve our nation in line with Vision 2030.”
Dr Mangezi said the University of Zimbabwe was thrilled that VP Chiwenga allowed their students to return to school, saying that challenges that led to the impasse were now resolved.
VP Chiwenga took the opportunity to outline his vision for the ministry saying issues of decent accommodation, reliable transport, remuneration and adequate tools for health professionals were close to his heart, and was, therefore, called on them to remain patient.