Analysis: CHIKOMENI BANDA
IT CAME as an aberration and disconcerting for the Lusaka Apex Medical University (LAMU) management and shareholders when we had a couple of our training programmes suspended by the Health Professional Council of Zambia (HPCZ) coming short in some aspects of regulatory compliance.The situation was regrettable, and consequently, resolving the issues raised by HPCZ in a timely manner is what is currently paramount for the institution.
The outcome will be made known to the public to ensure perceptions out there were grounded into reality. And the reality is that the university has not been closed but rather HPCZ has guided on putting in place certain requirements before resuming the selected programmes that are temporarily suspended.
I would like to stress that meeting regulatory compliance is key for the university as it dovetails with our core values of quality control and assurance, professionalism, accountability, integrity and honesty.
The bigger context is that growth comes with challenges, and it is our determination to mitigate and address them timely with minimum disruption to students and the operations of the university.
To illustrate, we entered the market in 2008 as the only pure private medical university with a handful of students, and now we have more than 6,000 enrolled in various medical and health disciplines offered by the university. The university has an ambitious goal of becoming the premier provider of medical and health education.
Notwithstanding the challenges, we are filled with optimism for the future, given the successes we have scored in the last 10 years.
The founders were inspired by Government’s efforts to address the nation’s health challenges, and wanted to make a contribution to the noble cause.
Remarkably, the founders possess a distinguished record, including a history of public service. Despite the lucrative options available to them, they chose to invest in this critical area that is one of the key drivers of sustainable development.
Therefore, it is befitting to pay tribute to this group of visionaries – former minister of Health, late Joseph Kasonde, former Health Permanent Secretary and personal physician of Zambia’s first republican president Kenneth Kaunda, Evaristo Njelesani, who has also served at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in various capacities, and former University Teaching Hospital (UTH) managing director Tackson Lambart.
Others are alumna of the University of Zambia (UNZA) faculty of medicine John Mudenda, late Cecilia Shinondo, who was also an alumna of UNZA faculty of medicine, business management consultant Yusuf Dodia, former dean UNZA faculty of medicine Professor Lupando Munkonge, and former Ministry of Health chief planner Vincent Musowe.
I think it is not an exaggeration to say that, collectively, the founders formed a concentrated reservoir of health architecture and medical knowledge in Zambia. This ensures and guarantees high quality of professionalism.
I am confident that my successor, Chishimba Lumbwe, would ably shoulder the responsibility of taking the university to greater heights.
The successes, coming against a backdrop of a highly competitive environment, coupled with negative economic factors, indicate that the university had put in place fundamentals to ensure its short and long-term objectives are achieved.
Evidence of our success includes delivering shareholder value, and meeting the increasing demand for higher education in medical and health education locally and across the continent.
We have developed education programmes relevant to responding to the pressing problems of health care needs in Zambia and the rest of the continent. This is underpinned by employing highly qualified academic staff and expansion of learning facilities to world-class standards.
Talking about world-class learning facilities, we have just completed construction of a faculty of medicine lecture theatre with a capacity of 400 students.
LAMU offers cutting-edge education training in medical and health sciences education in a wide range of fields from advanced (A) levels, diplomas, bachelor and master’s degrees.
The university is also particularly excited about the fact that two of its first batch of doctors who graduated from the institution are furthering their studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom (UK) and Harvard University in the United States (US).
Other key developments are the establishment of a radiography and radiology unit, and construction of a diagnostic, training and rehabilitation centre. On the cards, too, was the construction of Lusaka Apex Medical University Teaching Hospital.
It is no wonder that local and foreign students in the region deem LAMU as the university of choice to pursue medical and health studies.
The university has seven faculties – health sciences; medical radiation sciences; medicine and nursing and midwifery.
Others are pharmacy, nutrition and diabetes; premedical sciences and public health. In addition, it has two directorates of medical education and research and postgraduate studies.
Government has played a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment that has allowed us to implement our blueprint of becoming the apex of medical and health education training in Zambia and the rest of the continent.
The author is outgoing company chairperson of Lusaka Apex Medical University Limited.
Analysis: CHIKOMENI BANDA