HARARE – Zimbabwe’s first black pathologist and medical director of the National Blood Services Zimbabwe, Dr McLeod Ernest Chitiyo (83) has died.

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First black pathologist Chitiyo dies
First black pathologist Chitiyo dies

Dr Chitiyo died on Monday last week in Harare after battling a kidney ailment for a long time. His son, Knox, said his father died at the Avenues Clinic.

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“He was a loving father and professional who devoted his life to the service of humanity,” he said. “He was a pioneer in the field of medicine in Zimbabwe and the entire region”.

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Dr Chitiyo’s close associates described his death as a great loss to the nation and Africa as a whole.

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“It’s a sad loss to Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole,” said Professor Christopher Chetsanga, president of the Zimbabwe Academy of Science and a close friend.

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“He hasn’t been well for some time. We were close friends since we first met in the 1970s in the US. Dr Chitiyo was devoted to his work and he will be best remembered for his professional skills and outstanding contribution to the country’s medical sector.

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“I’ll always treasure his friendship and professionalism.”

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University of Zimbabwe director of the Institute of Continuing Health Education and specialist urologist, Christopher Samkange said the death of Dr Chitiyo had robbed Zimbabwe of one the most dedicated and gifted medical practitioners who contributed immensely towards the development of the country’s health sector.

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“I’m really upset to learn about his death,” he said. “We have lost a great man who loved humanity, and whose service to humanity was unparalleled. He dedicated his life towards giving the best service to patients.”

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Samkange said Dr Chitiyo was a pioneer African pathologist who was among the first black medical practitioners who were brave to open laboratories at a time when the country’s medical sector was still dominated by whites.

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“He leaves a unique legacy to us. He demonstrated to us that it was possible for blacks to run their own medical laboratories professionally,” he said. “He was the first black pathologist to open a laboratory in Zimbabwe and the entire southern Africa region.

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“He ran his branches very well and was very instrumental in the fight against HIV in Zimbabwe as well as ensuring that Zimbabwe ranked sixth in the world in terms of having the safest blood bank in the world.”

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Zimbabwe Association of Pathologists secretary general Dr Rudo Makunike-Mutasa described Dr Chitiyo as the ‘grandfather of pathology’ in Zimbabwe who contributed immensely in training medical students and the development of the pathology profession in the country and Africa as a whole.

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“It’s a great loss to the whole nation and the entire African continent. He was the grandfather of pathology in Zimbabwe and we will miss his wisdom and professionalism,” she said.

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“He was the first black pathologist who made the most significant contributions to the understanding of pathology and the growth of the sector in Zimbabwe.

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“He was an outstanding pathologist, a valued colleague, a wonderful friend and the kindest and most thoughtful person.”

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Dr Chitiyo was born on November 30, 1932 at Old Umtali Mission and spent his entire career, from medical school to private practice and retirement, practising, teaching and promoting pathology in the country.

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He helped train many of the leading surgical pathologists in the country. He was nationally known for his work, together with Dr Barclay, for opening the first private medical laboratory in Zimbabwe.

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Dr Chitiyo later sold the laboratory to CIMAS but continued serving as a consultant for the society as well as teaching part-time at the UZ Department of Haematology. He also served in various boards and professional bodies both at the local, national and international level.

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He graduated with a Bachelor of Science medical degree from the University of Natal in 1960. After he completed medical school, he furthered his education and got a diploma in specialist pathology from the Royal College of Physicians in the UK in 1972. The Herald