Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) is a merger between College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing and was established in 2019 under the Act of Parliament. The 2 colleges were under the University of Malawi together with three other sister colleges (Bunda college of Agriculture, Chancellor College and Polytechnic).
Kamuzu College of Nursing was built on a rich, vibrant history that dates back to the 1960s. Professional nurse training in Malawi started in 1965 when the National School of Nursing was commissioned to train Registered Nurses and Midwives by the Government under the Ministry of Health. Graduates from the National School of Nursing received a Certificate in Nursing and Midwifery. Prior to this, the few registered nurses and midwives in Malawi were trained in various parts of the world including Germany, United Kingdom, Israel and Zimbabwe.
After 14 years of its existence, the nursing and midwifery programmes were upgraded to a diploma in nursing and a University Certificate in Midwifery and the then called National School of Nursing became Kamuzu College of Nursing under the University of Malawi.
In 1991 the college introduced the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Post Basic degree programme in order to upgrade nurses who had obtained a University Diploma in Nursing and a University Certificate in Midwifery. This programme until presently has five options: Nursing Education, Community Health Nursing, Child Health Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Management.
Thereafter, a generic (baccalaureate) degree nursing programme started in 1996 which replaced the diploma programme. Fast forward to 2008, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing programme was replaced by an integrated Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Midwifery programme. Until 2008 the highest qualification obtainable at KCN in Malawi was a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
On the other hand, College of Medicine (COM) was established with three main roles of training, research and service. From the time of Dr David Livingstone to the time of independence from Britain in 1964, Medical practice was dominated by British doctors. Only a few Malawians were trained as medical doctors before the time of independence. The British colonialists established a Federation of Rhodesia now Zambia and Zimbabwe, and Nyasaland now Malawi. Several Malawians were offered Scholarships from the Federation to train as medical doctors. Among the Malawians who benefited from these scholarships were Dr John Chiphangwi who was trained in the Scottish University of Aberdeen and Dr Dick Chilemba who was trained in India. Malawi in its independence could not however provide medical care services for a large population because of its limited staff and financial resources.
The Medical school project was approved in 1986 after several people fought to promote opening a Medical school in Malawi from the early 1970’s. It was approved after the submission of a proposal by the Tripartite Commission to the Head of State, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. It consisted of representatives from Malawi, UK and Western Germany hence the name tripartite. The principle aim of the Tripartite Commission was to develop a feasible strategy to establish a medical school of high standing in the quickest and most cost effective manner.
After denying different proposals for the start of a Medical school, Dr Kamuzu Banda finally accepted the study called The Tripartite Project – Identification for the Establishment of a Medical School in Stages. This study unlike previous studies attempted to cost the whole exercise so that the government of Malawi could not worry about their budget, it also acknowledged that the first three pre-clinical years are the most expensive and so suggested to the government that this part of training could be done outside the country as they prepare for the clinical years in Malawi. Building the pre-clinical laboratories could be built step by step as to not disturb the Malawian economy. This study was presented to his Excellency Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda and he accepted. With the acceptance from the President, a coordinating committee which was called the Tripartite commission was formed.
COM was officially opened on the 6th of September 1991 and when it opened the first students had already done their pre- clinical years elsewhere outside of the country and teaching annexes were added to the clinical wards of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) for their clinical training. Land was also identified near Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital on which new building structures for teaching basic medical science were built. This was later named Mahatma Gandhi Campus.
Over the years, COM grew from a single faculty to three faculties training not only medical doctors but other health professionals such as Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Laboratory scientists and the like and opened other campuses in Lilongwe and Mangochi.