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Medical fraternity mourns Hakim

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BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI/PHYLLIS MBANJE

The medical fraternity in Zimbabwe was plunged into mourning following the death of a seasoned physician specialist and an academic, Professor James Gita Hakim on Tuesday due to COVID-19.

Hakim was a professor of medicine and past chair of the University of Zimbabwe Medical School.

The late professor played a key role in global HIV and Aids research, including antiretroviral therapy, prevention, opportunistic infections and prenatal HIV.
He was a renowned heart specialist and led a number of programmes meant to capacitate the University of Zimbabwe medical school.

The Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe (MDPPZA), an all-inclusive board of medical practitioners in practice, yesterday paid tribute to the late cardiologist.

“The MDPPZA extends heartfelt condolences to the Hakim family following the untimely death of Professor Gita Hakim, on January 26, 2021,” MDPPZA said in a statement.

The MDPPZA said the gap that Hakim left would be very difficult to fill.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara said Zimbabwe had been robbed of a great medical mind.

“We have lost a giant in the medical field, a teacher, a mentor and a father. He was a key researcher in almost all HIV and Aids programmes across the world. We lost a hero,” Matara said.

The International Aids Society (IAS) also mourned Hakim, describing him as outstanding, adding that the HIV community had suffered a great loss.

“We send our deepest condolences to David and James’ families and loved ones at this difficult time,” said Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the IAS.

Hakim has contributed to seminal HIV research with more than 150 publications and international communications, and was honoured with the Ward Cates Spirit Award in 2019 for his outstanding commitment and leadership to health as a right, scientific excellence, and generosity in mentorship and support.

“These two wonderful doctors made a difference to HIV healthcare in Africa and in the world — we cannot begin to quantify the loss,” said Linda-Gail Bekker, past president of IAS.

Hakim trained at Makerere University in Uganda for a Bachelor of Medicine degree before he did specialist training in Kenya, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.

He also did a post-doctorate programme in cardiology at Aachen in Germany.

Apart from being a fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh, he had a number of accolades in the medical field. Funeral arrangements were still sketchy yesterday.

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