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US-Zimbabwean University Project Targets Health Professional Brain Drain

The University of Zimbabwe and the University of Buffalo, New York, have launched a program whose organizers hope will eventually help curb the exodus of Zimbabwean health professionals, particularly in the area of pharmacology.

The program launch extends a project begun six years ago by senior researcher Dr. Chiedza Maponga of the University of Zimbabwe, and University of Buffalo Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research Gene Morse.

Dr. Maponga, a visiting researcher at UB who travels regularly to Zimbabwe, said he was particularly concerned about the impact of brain drain on the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Zimbabwe's biggest public health challenges.

Realizing the frustration caused among skilled health professionals by inadequate or outdated resources, Dr. Maponga said the UB-UZ project aimed to encourage such professionals to stay in the country and keep working in “resource poor settings.”

Dr. Maponga and his University of Buffalo partners hope the five-year program launched Thursday will ensure that young students with proper training and education remain challenged and committed to helping Zimbabwe combat its many health problems, despite the shrinking financial resources available to the sector.

A pioneer of the UB/UZ project is graduate student Tinashe Mudzviti of the University of Zimbabwe, who is due to return to Zimbabwe next week following his completion of a six-week training exercise conducted at the University of Buffalo.

Dr. Maponga told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that between 15 and 20 students will be recruited in the course of the program.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...