AU es­tab­lishes med­i­cal school

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Sa­muel Kadun­gure Se­nior Re­porter

AFRICA Univer­sity has rev­o­luti­nalised its op­er­a­tions by es­tab­lish­ing a med­i­cal school that of­fers pro­grammes up to PHD, in­terim Vice-Chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Pamela Machakanja, has re­vealed.

Plans are also at an ad­vanced stage for the var­sity to es­tab­lish the Fac­ulty of Agri­cul­tural En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­ogy.

Prof Machakanja made the dis­clo­sure at a STEM busi­ness lun­cheon held at a lo­cal ho­tel on Wed­nes­day.

Prof Machakanja who was stand­ing in for his boss, Pro­fes­sor Mu­nashe Fu­rusa, ad­dressed del­e­gates on the trans­for­ma­tion of uni­ver­si­ties to an­chor in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and moderni­sa­tion through re­search, in­no­va­tion tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions and com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion.

She said AU would en­gage three United Methodist Church heath in­sti­tu­tions –Mu­tam­bara, Old Mutare and Nyadire Mis­sion Hos­pi­tals as teach­ing hos­pi­tals.

Prof Machakanja said the de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish a med­i­cal school was trig­gered by a trip taken by of­fi­cials from the Min­istry of Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Devel­op­ment and Vice-Chan­cel­lors to var­i­ous coun­tries across the world on a look-and-learn mis­sion.

“As Africa Univer­sity, our re­sponse to the stem­a­ti­sa­tion phi­los­o­phy was trig­gered by that visit. Since the re­turn of our Vice-Chan­cel­lor, we had to take a dra­matic turn to trans­form the univer­sity.

“First of all, we had seven fac­ul­ties since our in­cep­tion in 1992 to 2016. With the global trends of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, stem­a­ti­sa­tion and moderni­sa­tion, we had to make changes. So we stream­lined the univer­sity to just three col­leges that we are fo­cus­ing on – The Col­lege of Busi­ness, Sci­ence, Peace, Lead­er­ship and Gov­er­nance, The Col­lege of So­cial Sci­ence, The­ol­ogy, Hu­man­i­ties and Ed­u­ca­tion, and the Col­lege of Agri­cul­ture, Health and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Sci­ences,” said Prof Machakanja.

“It was a painful jour­ney, but we had to do that. As part of re­spond­ing to Gov­ern­ment’s agenda on stem­a­ti­sa­tion, we have se­lected our fo­cus on the area of medicine. We have a Col­lege of Health Sci­ences which was mainly fo­cus­ing on pub­lic health, un­der­grad­u­ate and masters’ pro­gramme. A dra­matic shift in that de­part­ment was de­cided about two months ago.

“Re­sources avail­able, we want to have a strong Health Sci­ence De­part­ment with pro­grammes up to PHD. As a UMC- re­lated

◆ in­sti­tu­tion, we knew that start­ing a med­i­cal school is very ex­pen­sive, so we had to look around within our con­stituency to see if we can an­chor our med­i­cal school.

“We have al­ready iden­ti­fied our UMC hos­pi­tals — Nyadire, Mu­tam­bara and Old Mutare as an­chors of teach­ing uni­ver­si­ties that will make a trans­for­ma­tion in Zim­babwe and Africa. We al­ready have state-of-the-art health sci­ences lab with mod­ern equip­ment.

“Again, I also like to em­pha­sise that be­cause we are a pri­vate univer­sity, so it also pushed us a lit­tle bit more to look for re­sources. I can say we are very strate­gic, ro­bust, and vig­or­ous in re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion,” said Prof Machakanja.

“We have a Clin­i­cal Re­search Cen­tre, and we have part­ners who are will­ing to sup­port us with med­i­cal equip­ment and ex­perts. Some of the equip­ment has al­ready come.

“We are hav­ing di­a­logue which is at ad­vanced stage with lo­cal med­i­cal in­sur­ance provider to pro­vide schol­ar­ships to train med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers in the spe­cialised fields. There is no time to sit back. You have to hit the ground run­ning and that is what we are do­ing in terms of re­spond­ing to that,” said Prof Machakanja.

She said ex­perts, cost cut­ting, in­vest­ment and re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion would be key to sus­tain­abil­ity.

“Be­cause of th­ese changes, we have al­ready re­vamped the Col­lege of Health and we have a new Dean. We are also plan­ning to es­tab­lish a Col­lege of En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­ogy, with em­pha­sis on Agri­cul­tural En­gi­neer­ing and Com­puter Sci­ence.

“So we have to take an au­dit of the re­sources that we have. We have the Fac­ulty of Agri­cul­ture with the state-ofart equip­ment, we have 600 hectares of farm­land, of which we are cur­rently util­is­ing only 80ha,” she said.

Prof Machakanja said AU had al­ready se­cured two vis­it­ing pro­fes­sors to help es­tab­lish the Agri­cul­tural En­gi­neer­ing De­part­ment and tech­ni­cal staff to re­vamp the ex­ist­ing cur­ricu­lum.

AU has also hired a Com­puter Sci­ence ex­pert, com­ing on board for a year to trans­form its Com­puter Sci­ence De­part­ment into Com­puter En­gi­neer­ing.

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