Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya says leakage for nursing exams was circulating in soft copy format on WhatsApp.

And Dr Chilufya says practical examinations for nursing and midwifery students country wide will proceed as scheduled because they were not affected by leakages.

Responding to a question from Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili, who wanted to know the point at which the ministry or General Nursing Council of Zambia discovered the leakage, Dr Chilufya said his ministry had engaged ZICTA to find out at what point a soft copy version of the exam left the host computer.

“The leakage was discovered through a WhatsApp message where people where exchanging WhatsApp messages and a whistle blower WhatsApped one of the staff at GNCZ to say this paper has been leaked. So what was leaked was a soft copy. Immediately that was discovered we suspended the examinations. So it was based on a whistle blower’s information. The whistle blower was not even a nursing student. He was just alerting one of the staff at GNCZ that there is this circulation of a leaked examination paper. And this is what alerted our inspectors to compare what was circulating with what was actually in the paper and they realized that it was actually the same. That’s why the investigations has involved ZICTA and the police until we get to the bottom of the case,” Dr Chilufya said.

“These exams are prepared by experts seated in a particular room and they are using computers. There should be a point at which a soft copy moved from that environment so we are not going to search necessarily who WhatsApped who but we want to find out at what point a soft copy left the host computer.”

And Dr Chilufya said the nullified examinations had been replaced by new examinations scheduled for December whilst all practical examinations for eligible students would proceed as originally scheduled because the leakage had not affected them.

“The House may wish to note that the profession of nursing has held a long and cherished position in Zambia. Zambian nurses are valued all over the world for their integrity and professionalism. GNCZ is mandated by law to promote patient safety, protect members of the general public from unsafe nursing practices and to uphold quality, integrity and professionalism among all members and those who aspire to be members of the general nursing. It is therefore right that the examinations have been nullified in order to preserve patient safety, aspire for quality health service delivery and maintain integrity,” Dr Chilufya said.

“Mr Speaker, all 30 colleges of nursing and midwifery, both private and public with eligible students for the RN [Registered Nurses] and RNM [Registered Nurse Midwives] examinations throughout the country have been affected by this nullification of the GNC theory exams. The total number of eligible students affected is 1,797. However, I wish to inform the house that all practical examinations for eligible students in the 30 colleges country wide are proceeding as originally scheduled as they are not affected by the said leakage.”

Dr Chilufya said students would not pay any extra costs.

“The nullified examinations have been replaced by a complete new set of examinations scheduled to start on 11th December 2017 and end on 18th December, 2017. There is no extension to the final academic year for eligible students. I wish to assure students, their parents and sponsors that government has already taken every precaution to ensure that all eligible nursing and midwifery examination candidates are not unnecessarily inconvenienced. They will not be required to pay any extra costs,” said Dr Chilufya.

“Some measures in place to ensure that exams leakages do not occur include: (i) Premises where examination papers are prepared is always a restricted area and only authorized staff are allowed to access the area. It is kept locked and guided 24/7. (ii) The number of staff who are authorized to handle examination papers is limited and computers used to prepare examination papers are password protected. (iii) Examination papers are always sealed after processing and stored in a very secure place. (iv) Inspection of the examination papers is always done at the point of collecting and at the point of opening to ensure that they are intact. (v)There shall be new measures at the IT section that shall be used to improve security.”