I am writing as the Executive director of Kalene Hospital.
I was a member of the interviewing panel and observed the whole process of selection. This was a transparent and honest process, with all members of the selection committee being present during the selection process. All members of the selection committee can independently confirm the integrity of the selection process. The selection committee are respected members of the community and were appointed according to General Nursing Council guidelines (clinical tutors, DEBS, senior member of office of the president, senior nursing officer and midwife for the district, district medical officer, Human resources management officer , community representative etc). Being on the selection committee is stressful for many of the Zambian staff members because they are exposed to a significant amount of pressure to select individuals who have not performed (as well as those who have been selected). Individuals in the panel have been verbally abused and threatened, for the simple reason that they have done their job well and have selected without bias the best candidates.
I am very disappointed that a news website such as Zambia Watchdog, which prides itself on presenting accurate information to the public, would publish such unsubstantiated allegations from anonymous people. Investigative journalism would be able to confirm that the DEBS and Senior nursing officer are both female, and would also be able to confirm that no one can be selected without achieving the appropriate grade 12 qualifications first as all grades are independently reviewed by the GNC.
The letter also asks what male members of the selection panel were doing with female interviewees. I would like to make two brief comments about this. Firstly, two female interviewees were dropped off at the market during daylight hours (about 17:30) – I happened to be driving a white Landcruiser directly behind the stated vehicle and can confirm this. Secondly, the interviewers stayed at the same lodge and also ate together. They did not spend time with any interviewees in the evening. Some interviewees were eating at a different table in the same restaurant, but to create an accusation out of such circumstances is completely unjustified.
The person who wrote this article is either uninformed or is trying to deliberately undermine a member of the selection panel or the process of selection. Anonymous articles such as this article about the Kalene Nursing School cast unjustified suspicion against all members of the selection committee (who have done their very best to select the most deserving candidates). The members of the selection committee deserve better than this. As the editor are you willing to withdraw this article and are you able to make a statement to help to exonerate the reputations of those on the selection panel?
Dr John Woodfield
Kalene Mission Hospital