Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
Zimbabwe's prominent and foremost heart specialist physician, Dr James Gita Hakim, has died from Covid-19 related complications.
He was a professor of medicine and past chair of the University of Zimbabwe Medical School.
As reports of his death filtered yesterday, there was outpouring of grief as the medical fraternity paid tribute to Dr Hakim.
Mr Christopher Samkange, veteran surgeon and director of the University of Zimbabwe Institute of Continuing Health Education (ICHE) described Dr Hakim's death as a huge blow to the country.
"Today we lost Professor James Gita Hakim," he said. "Professor Hakim was an exceptional physician. He was an exceptional medical doctor, fantastic diagnostician and easily caring for his patients deeply, but never hesitating to ask if we could not do better.
"He was a committed teacher, never thinking that one could do too much for the students; a mentor whose commitment to the development of the trainees will take some passing. He was a natural researcher: unique in that he wanted every colleague to reach their full potential.
"He wrote so many papers, was respected and cherished in the region, the continent and the world over. He founded organisations and institutions that developed medicine, our country and our continent. Though he had to leave his native Sudan at a young age, he never forgot it in his works and he did a lot more for Zimbabwe than some of us.
"He will be remembered as a giant, so humble, so towering and yet so down to earth and shattering relevant. He has left a void that will be so difficult to fill. Our heartfelt gratitude to his family for sharing him with us; we pray that they are comforted in this very arduous time."
Said Dr Norman Matara: "We have lost a great professor of medicine, a teacher, researcher, and above all a humble and good person. This is a huge loss for the nation. Go well professor, your contribution to science and medicine will forever be invaluable - broken heart." Dr Hakim studied medicine at the University of Makerere in Uganda and specialised in internal medicine in Kenya, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and South Africa. He was an active clinician with interest in HIV and Aids preventative and therapeutic research, including co-infections.
Dr Hakim held a number of positions and portfolios in various local, regional and international bodies. In 2019, he received the Ward Cates Spirit award in the United States for his outstanding commitment and leadership to health, scientific excellence and generosity in mentorship and support. He was formerly head of the UZ College of Health Sciences and director of the UZ Clinical Research Centre.
He trained a number of the country's prominent medical experts.
Zimbabwe has over the past few weeks lost a number of frontline healthcare workers to the raging Covid-19 pandemic.