Zimbabwe: Specialist Training for 117 Doctors

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is working flat out to improve the country’s health sector by unlocking specialised training opportunities for 117 local doctors in oncology, diabetes and fertility issues, among many other disciplines of need.

The First Lady is the country’s health and child care ambassador and ambassador of Merck More than a Mother in Zimbabwe.

In a letter to Amai Mnangagwa, Merck Foundation chief executive Dr Rasha Kelej paid tribute to her various works, which seek to keep the country safe and healthy.

“During this time of global crisis, all of us have a special responsibility to take care of our families and one another,” she said.

“At the same time, we must continue to serve our communities who need our programmes and benefit from our contribution.

“Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to greatly appreciate the valuable partnership that we have with your Excellency as Merck More Than a Mother Ambassador.

“And we also acknowledge your support to establish the partnership with the Ministries of Health, Education and Information in Zimbabwe. We are very much looking forward to launch Merck Foundation in partnership with you as the Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother shortly after the lockdown is lifted.”

Amai Mnangagwa was full of praises for Merck Foundation and encouraged beneficiaries of the various training programmes to take the courses seriously.

“I am truly thankful to Merck Foundation for assisting our health sector and doctors with the training opportunities,” she said.

“This will benefit the nation as the doctors will sharpen their skills and upgrade their discharge of services through the training.

“I also wish to congratulate the beneficiaries and urge them to take the training programme seriously as we leave no stone unturned in efforts to revamp the country’s health sector.”

The First Lady vowed to continue working with Merck Foundation in its various development programmes.

Dr Kelej said so far, several Zimbabwean doctors had been provided with scholarships in oncology research, surgical oncology and radiation oncology.

“Through this oncology programme, Merck Foundation is providing scholarships to train young doctors from Zimbabwe in various specialties of oncology, with the aim to establish a skilled team able to improve access to quality and equitable cancer care in the country,” she said.

“We have got the allocation of the starting dates for the candidates in Oncology Speciality training, who will be starting this month. We are looking forward to receiving more candidates for different sub-specialties of oncology.”

The foundation said it was training 11 more doctors in fertility and embryology.

“Through Merck More than a Mother campaign, Merck Foundation together with Your Excellency, is making history in Zimbabwe by providing Fertility and Embryology training for the first fertility care team in Zimbabwe in public sector and would look forward to receiving more candidates as well to establish a strong platform of first fertility specialists to assist infertile couples in the country,” said Dr Kelej.

“We have enrolled three candidates to the fertility training programmes and two candidates to the Embryology training programmes. We are currently going to focus on fertility specialists as this is the most needed in Africa. Therefore, we are looking forward to receiving more candidates for the fertility specialists training.”

For doctors to specialise and upgrade their skills in sexual and reproductive medicine, Dr Kelej said her foundation was providing a one-year online post-graduate Diploma in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine from the University of South Wales.

So far, four doctors have been recommended to undertake the training.

She said the Merck Foundation Diabetes Blue Point Programme will help improve access to equitable and quality diabetes care across Zimbabwe by providing a three months Online Diabetes Master course accredited by Diabetes UK to Medical graduates in Zimbabwe.

Successful candidates will be eligible to enrol to the one-year online Post Graduate Diploma in Diabetes Management from University of South Wales for doctors.

Further, candidates who score a distinction in the post-graduate diploma would be eligible to enrol for the online MSc in Diabetes Management from University of South Wales.

After completion, the doctors should be able to establish a diabetes clinic in his/her health centre or hospital, with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities.

Dr Kelej added that her organisation was also planning to support girl students as part of Merck Foundation — “Educating Rujeko” which aims to empower girls through education in Zimbabwe and rest of Africa.

“We are closely working with your team on this new programme with the aim to empower girls through education. And to launch ‘Educating Rujeko’ storybook to inspire girls and sensitise communities about the importance of girl education.

“The Educating Rujeko storybook has been developed with support from your Excellency’s office. We would like to acknowledge your great commitment and continuous support to Merck More than a Mother campaign to raise awareness and break the stigma around infertile women in Zimbabwe and across Africa.

“Your Excellency, rest assured, we are closely monitoring the above-mentioned programmes and we are confident that through your continuous support, would be able to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare in your country.

“I am very much looking forward to our official launch as soon as the lockdown is over,” read the letter.

National Aids Council chief executive, Dr Bernard Madzima expressed gratitude for the training opportunities being provided by Amai Mnangagwa through her partnership with Merck Foundation.

“The First Lady has been very instrumental in helping in the various sectors of health,” he said.

“As ambassador of health and child care, she has supported many sectors in the health system. In this case, it is training of doctors, but we know that she has also been instrumental in maternal child health programmes and nutrition programmes.

“This is just one aspect of many things which Her Excellency has supported and we really would like to thank her for this partnership with Merck Foundation which has seen more than 100 doctors being trained and enhance their skills as they deliver services to the population.”

Dr Madzima said over the past two years when Angel of Hope Foundation went into partnership with Merck Foundation, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has helped in the selection of doctors, especially those who are working in district hospitals and provincial hospitals.

Some of the trainings have happened in India and some are going to take place in Egypt.

Doctors are going there for periods ranging from three months to six months and they are being trained in specialist areas like oncology, radiation oncology and fertility embryology.

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