Pathologists shortage hits southern region

ZIMBABWE is facing a critical shortage of forensic pathologists with one specialist servicing all the five southern region provinces.

Midlands, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces are all reportedly relying on services from Bulawayo for post mortem services.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) acting chief executive officer Narcissus Dzvanga said the health facility was overwhelmed by the demand for post mortem services.

“This is a highly specialised field and it is not an easy job. As it is, we only have one specialist doctor performing it and he is from Cuba. He is stationed here and is covering the entire region. Gweru Kwekwe, Masvingo, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Plumtree, Lupane and Victoria Falls, as well as our local cases, all come here. So, now you can imagine the pressure that we are under as a hospital,” Dzvanga said.

He attributed the shortage of pathologists in the region to a serious brain drain that has hit the country in the past few years owing to economic challenges.

Police recently noted that the shortage of forensic pathologists had also stalled investigations in a number of serious murder, robbery and other related cases that require post-mortem and other special forensic reports.

According to the Zimbabwe College of Pathologists, the country has only two specialist forensic pathologists servicing the entire country.

Speaking at the inaugural Zimbabwe College of Pathology graduation last week, professor in the department Hilda Matarira said there was a need to invest in training and recruiting forensic pathologists in the country due to critical need and short staffing.

“We have a critical shortage in forensic medicine which deals in diagnostics investigations especially in causes of deaths. For forensic medicines we have two experts in the country. As a result, Zimbabwe has a lot of cases in which it is not determined how people died and relatives will not find closure,” she said.


Andile Tshuma