Zimbabwe has been making strides to improve its healthcare system. Particularly by increasing the number of medical schools to train doctors and improve the patient-to-doctor ratio. This initiative comes amidst a dire healthcare crisis in the country. Additionally, many Zimbabweans resorting to medical tourism due to the lack of adequate healthcare facilities and services at home. Zimbabwe’s medical schools need to be increased to help with health delivery. This was said by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa in Victoria falls recently. This was during the 20th edition of the International Ministerial Conference on South-South and Triangular Co-operation in Population and Development.
A Crumbling Healthcare System
Zimbabwe’s healthcare system is currently deplorable. With a critical shortage of drugs and medical professionals, including doctors and nurses. The patient-to-doctor ratio in some hospitals has reached an alarming 1:12,000. This is a huge disparity when in comparison to the 1:200 prescribed by the United Nations.
The Need for More Medical Schools in Zimbabwe
In response to these challenges, the Zimbabwean government has been taking steps to increase the number of medical schools. Currently, the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences is the only school with recognition to train medical and dental graduates. However, the establishment of a second medical school in Bulawayo at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) is underway. This path to increase Zimbabwe’s medical schools is commendable.
The undergraduate students go through a rigorous 5-year training period. After, they take part in a compulsory internship. This internship is a crucial supervised period in a Central Hospital or an approved Designated Health Institution. This provides the students with valuable clinical experience.
The Impact on Patient-to-Doctor Ratio
The increase in Zimbabwe’s medical schools will contribute to improving the patient-to-doctor ratio by training more doctors. However, the effectiveness of this initiative will depend on various factors. These include the quality of education provided by the medical schools. Also, the number of graduates, and the distribution of these doctors across the country.
Challenges and Way Forward
Despite these positive steps, the process of increasing the number of medical schools and improving the patient-to-doctor ratio in Zimbabwe is not without challenges. These include inadequate learning infrastructure, faculty recruitment and retention issues, and low public-sector salaries for faculty members.
To overcome these challenges, the Zimbabwean government needs to invest more in healthcare infrastructure. Moreover, an improvement in the working conditions for medical professionals is vital. Moreover, provision of adequate funding for medical education is also crucial. Furthermore, the government should also consider innovative ways to improve medical training. Those that are capable of delivering doctors who are well-equipped to improve Zimbabwe’s healthcare system.
In conclusion, while the increase in medical schools is a promising step towards improving the healthcare system in Zimbabwe, it is important for the government to address the underlying challenges to ensure the success of this initiative. However, with concerted efforts, significant strides towards improving patient-to-doctor ratio and enhancing Zimbabwe’s healthcare system can be made.