The Health Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ) has withdrawn five medical courses from Apex Medical University and Cavendish University for various breaches such as inadequate lecturers and lack of proper laboratories.

And HPCZ says it will sue the two universities to demonstrate the gravity of the offenses.

Meanwhile, HCPZ says the two universities must find ways of protecting thousands of students who are enrolled in these programs as it is their responsibility.

At a media briefing, Sunday, HPCZ Registrar Dr Aaron Mujajati revealed that the council could not allow the two universities to continue training doctors saying given the capacity, they could only produce assassins.

“The Health Professions Council of Zambia wishes to inform the general public, stakeholders and students about the withdrawal of approval certificates for training programs which are offered by Lusaka Apex Medical University. We have withdrawn certificates for two programs at Apex University namely, bachelor of science in pharmacy and bachelor of science in radiography. We have withdrawn three programs from Cavendish University namely MBCHP which is Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, this is the qualification that people obtain to become doctors, we have also withdrawn the Bachelor of Science in Clinical Medicine and Bachelor of Science in Public Health. A bit of a background is that before these programs were withdrawn, the Health Professions Council last year did conduct compliance monitoring inspections in these training institutions and at that time, these major violations were actually found and the training institutions were given an opportunity to address the violations and they were given adequate time to deal with the violations that were found. And the inspection was done in October last year and the schools were informed that at a given date, the council would come back to check if they had addressed these problems. And unfortunately, the ongoing compliance inspection unearthed that the schools did not do much to address the problems,” Dr Mujajati said.

“Some of the reasons, if you take Lusaka Apex Medical University and the program under pharmacy, you will find that the dean did not have post graduate qualifications which is against the standards of the council. The coordinator of the course did not have the required five years teaching experience, the institution has over enrolled students. Up to 740 students against five full time lecturers, four of whom are not qualified to teach pharmacy and they have inadequate sitting capacity in the library, inadequate prescribed and recommended books, no clinical instructors available for the students and the laboratory does not meet the required standards. It is the same picture with the program under Bachelor of Science in Radiography. The major issues there, among others, has to do with the fact that the dean is part time and his qualifications are unknown. And there is only one full time lecturer to teach a 100 students which is against the standards of the council.”

He also explained why three courses were withdrawn from Cavendish.

“When you look at Cavendish, we have withdrawn the programs for the following reasons; they do not have teaching staff for core programs especially under the MBCHP program that produces doctors. They have no lecturers to teach pediatrics, because the requirement is that they are supposed to have full time lecturers in these four courses. Internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, all the lecturers are part time, which is against the standard and the requirement of the council is that a school should have 50 per cent full time lecturers and 50 per cent part time lecturers. They have failed that standard as well. Some teaching staff do not have Health Professions Council certificates and this was the case even for both schools, if you also look at Lusaka Apex,” he said.

“Cavendish does not have laboratories to train doctors and they also have issues with inadequate space in their libraries and they also do not have adequate books. And the council wishes to state that schools that train health care workers should not be engaging in dangerous cost saving measures because as a council, our main interest is that we are accountable to the public and keep the public safe. The quality of health care in any of these health facilities that we have begins with the quality of the health personnel. Now if the training is compromised in this fashion, we will not achieve the government policy of wanting to turn Zambia into a hub of medical care in the region. We must decide as a country, and as a council guided by the mandate of the act, we are fully committed to protecting the public and one of the things we want to emphasize is that when institutions go into training health care workers, let’s produce health care workers as opposed to putting measures that end up producing assassins. We are not in the business of allowing this type of violations of standards.”

And Dr Mujajati said it was the responsibility of the two universities to protect the affected students.

“There are students that are affected so as a council, we have instructed the schools responsible to out measures in place that will protect the students. It is their responsibility. It is them who invited students to enroll in a program which does not meet standards. Having withdrawn these programs, all academic activities in these programs must stop forthwith and the schools were informed duly,” said Dr Mujajati.

Meanwhile HPCZ legal counsel Frank Lungu said the council would sue the two universities.

“Since the two institutions that have been referred to are perpetual offenders, and in the last inspection has revealed that it is getting worse, to demonstrate and ensure that the public is protected, we are going to sue these institutions as a way forward so that we demonstrate that the offenses that they have committed are serious. We need the court to come in and pronounce itself on some of these violations,” said Lungu.