DOCTORS have called for the unfreezing of teaching posts at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Medical School, saying the development is affecting the institution’s ability to enrol medical students.
This follows numerous appeals by hospital management for the unfreezing of posts which they say is affecting the training of midwives, nurses as well as the quality of services being offered.
Currently, the medical school — which is housed at Mpilo Central Hospital — is enrolling only 25 medical students per intake owing to the shortage of lecturers.
Presenting evidence during a fact-finding mission by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care, consultants who also double up as lecturers at the training institution, appealed to the government to unfreeze the teaching posts.
Rudo Gwini said the Nust Medical School interviewed 35 consultants for various teaching posts but none has been hired due as posts are frozen.
“We will be grateful if you could lobby for the unfreezing of posts for Nust so that we are able to recruit more training doctors. At the moment, we had actually interviewed about 35 consultants and they have not been employed because of unfreezing of posts.
“We are actually under pressure to recruit more students but as a training institution, we recruit only 25. That is all we can do because of the numbers that we have. If we are to get more consultants, then we can also increase our intake,” Gwini said.
Another lecturer appealed for the expansion of the school, saying they share space with the school of nursing which cannot accommodate both disciplines.
“This is a teaching hospital and we would like to see a situation where we actually get assistance to put a structure that will provide super specialised care. It is not only the number of lecturers that we want increased but we also want infrastructure to teach our students as we actually share the premises with the school of nursing,” he said.
The doctors highlighted that the freezing of posts is not only affecting the number of students enrolled per intake but is also negatively impacting on the quality of doctors being produced.
They said at the moment, they operate once every two weeks, with emergencies being given top priority.
The doctors attributed this to the fact that only two main theatres and two others in the maternity ward, out of a total of 12, are working.
This has seen the surgeons “queuing for their turn in the theatre to operate on their patients.”
Zimbabwe is facing a critical shortage of doctors with the unfreezing of posts set to go a long way in addressing the shortages.
Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer Leonard Mabhandi reiterated the call to unfreeze critical health and tertiary education posts which has caused standards to fall.
Mpilo Hospital is supposed to operate with 44 specialists but currently has 25, with 19 vacant posts.
Chairperson of the Higher and Tertiary Education committee Daniel Molokele said his committee will lobby for the unfreezing of more posts.