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NAPAZ Annual Conference (23-24 September 2011)

Posted 11:51 PM, September 26, 2011, by Takudzwa Shumba

This weekend, I attended the National Physicians' Association of Zimbabwe's annual conference and general meeting, held in Bulawayo. I was the only medical student who attended (although it turned out at registration that students do not have to pay to attend!) and this year, the meeting was exclusively for physicians (compared to the year before when they had surgeons and anesthetists present --- apparently the physicians destroyed the surgeons on the golf course, an obvious disincentive for them to come back this year!)

The conference theme was "Non communicable diseases: revisiting a forgotten epidemic through strengthening continuing medical education." The first day focused on non communicable disease, and the second centered on medical education (as did the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) conference a couple of months ago --- I am sure that this emphasis is largely because of the MEPI program and the enthusiasm with which medical education transformation is being tackled, at UZCHS and Pari, in particular). Drs Gray and Ndhlovu encouraged me to attend, and in retrospect, it was a weekend very well spent!

Day One
Welcome remarks - NAPAZ President (Dr Ndhlovu)

Session One
Management of Status Epilepticus (Dr G Mamutse)
Applying Quality Improvement Methods to Hypertension Management (Prof Ed Havranek)
[Dr Mamutse was a "Wunderkind" during his time at UZCHS med school and during his MMed. He left for Norwich in 2001 and is a neurology consultant. He was in Zim for two weeks on the wards and teaching. Prof Havranek is a visiting professor from Denver, and one of the lead faculty in the CHRIS program.]

Session Two
Update on Assessment and Management of Acute Stroke (Dr G Mamutse)
Rheumatic Heart Disease: An Overview (Prof Ed Havranek)

Session Three
Neuromuscular Respiratory Failure (Dr G Mamutse)
An Overview of Lymph Node and Bone Marrow Aspirate findings in patients referred to Bulawayo hematology clinic (Dr Paleski) [So eccentric!]
Genomic and Phenotypic Correlates of colorectal cancer in Zimbabwe (Introduction to a PhD thesis) (Dr L Katsidzira)

Day Two
Assessment of juniors (Dr C Ndhlovu)
Overview of MEPI/ NCI Programs (Prof Matenga, Prof Hakim)
Proposed future training of specialists in medicine (Prof I Gangaidzo) [this session was excellent, and generated lively debate]
Summary/ way forward (Dr C Ndhlovu)

One of the best parts of the conference was being able to see the physicians in a less harried, calmer state than is the norm when they are on the wards. I was also in Mentee Nirvana. I was speaking to Dr Gray at some point about my future plans, nebulous and amorphous as they are, and he mentioned that the diffuseness of my thoughts means one of two things. Either I am planning such a grand and expansive scheme that it is impossible to actually put in words what my aspirations are, or I simply do not know what I want to do! I was hoping for a bit of grey area, somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, but talking to some of the physicians did give me more food for thought.

The challenge with the Zimbabwe situation is that we have decades of lost manpower - we have at the peak the Professors Hakim and Matenga, but gaps in the decades separating them from the Drs Ndhlovu and Mamutse, and then another barren patch between them and the training students. There were a few stories told about enthusiasts who trained abroad and returned to Zim, generally lasting less than a year because the system in Zimbabwe currently does not lend itself to full use all the knowledge acquired abroad, and the threshold for "standard of care" is different because of resource availability. The challenge then, is to find middle ground between the very different ways medicine is practised in Zim and in, say, the US. I think that ultimately no amount of planning will allow one to predict what the situation will be in 5, 10, 15 years time... I am safer sticking to "nebulous" planning at present...


Helpful information! Thanks T.

Comment by: Jonathan at September 28, 2011 1:33 AM

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