HARARE – A group of visiting specialist Indian doctors was forced to cancel high profile meetings with their Zimbabwean counterparts when police arrested them moments after arriving in the country on Thursday, allegedly for practicing without licenses.
The incident came just a few weeks after President Robert Mugabe’s government scrambled to avoid a diplomatic row with India following utterances by Zanu PF Harare province political commissar and MP – Shadreck Mashayamombe who called on the government to deport Indians residing in the country – on charges that they denied locals economic opportunities.
Prominent local doctor Vivek Solanki yesterday told the Daily News On Sunday that the Indian doctors were wrongly arrested because they were not seeing any patients.
“They were not seeing any patients but had come to chat with my doctors, view my new clinic and pay condolences on the loss of my mother. We have lost all leverage and respect of the Indians and they will never come back and will spread this bad adventure far and wide.
“What the medical registrar has done is treasonous… to say the least. I am extremely ashamed and devastated with this event at this juncture of our economy. Our own institutions are sabotaging much-needed development in the health sector,” Solanki said.
He accused Josephine Mwakutuya, the Medical and Dental Council of Zimbabwe Registrar, for causing the “unlawful” arrest and humiliation of the specialists.
However, Mwakutuya said she had acted according to the law, accusing Solanki of having sent an SMS to all doctors to bring their patients so that cardiologists and orthopedic surgeons could see them.
She said that she acted based on the powers vested in her and by terms of Section 74 of the Health Professions Act to stop the doctors from practicing without licenses.
Mwakutuya argued, even though Solanki said he was acting according to the terms of Section 129, which states that any foreign doctor can treat a patient in Zimbabwe without registration, as long as the patient invites him. However, he was obliged to inform the regulating council for ethical reasons should something bad happen to the patients.
Mwakutuya said when she visited Solanki’s Trauma Centre, there was a patient who was being attended to, while the doctors reportedly claimed that they were on Continuous Professional Development.
But an angry Solanki insisted that the Indian doctors’ visit was intended at exploring possibilities of investing in Zimbabwe by building hospitals.
“They wanted to meet with local physicians and some of their patients to better understand the disease patterns in Zimbabwe. They were not here to consult patients. This was part of the Indian High Commissioner and Speaker (Jacob) Mudenda’s effort to attract Indian foreign investment in the health sector,” he said, adding that it was agreed that they would come to Trauma Centre, Borrowdale to do this.
He accused Mwakutuya of coming to the hospital shouting before calling the police to arrest the Indian
doctors within seconds of their arrival –saying he had captured the whole incident on camera.
“The Indian doctors were chatting to Dr. Brian Paketh our local orthopedic surgeon, and no patient was there… she shouted at the police to arrest them making a big fuss and disturbing other patients who were there to see the dentist, physio, etc. who had nothing to do with the Indian visit,” he said.
“At 20:30 pm they were released, and they came to complain to me about how they were humiliated and will never come back and would spread the news back home.
“They even had to cancel a dinner they were hosting at the Venue in Avondale where they were meeting more Zimbabwean doctors to gauge the need for new hospitals needed in Zimbabwe,” fumed Solanki.
The specialist doctors left on Friday without fulfilling their mission.