By A Correspondent- Bulawayo residents and the government have mourned the death of Dr Muriella Fallala.
Dr Fellala was also a freedom fighter who joined the country’s liberation war and was sent to study medicine in Russia to save in independent Zimbabwe.
She was 69.
Dr Fallala died after her vehicle overturned while driving to the city centre on Wednesday as she was coming from her home in Ilanda suburb, rushing to Galen House to attend to a patient.
Described as an iron lady of uncompromising character, Dr Fallala, served Bulawayo for nearly 40 years in the medical field.
She started practicing as a doctor at Mpilo Central Hospital in 1982 upon returning home from the Soviet Union where she was deployed to train as a doctor after joining the liberation struggle in 1976.
While some freedom fighters were engaged on the frontline, others like her were sent to learn in friendly nations where they were equipped with skills to run an independent Zimbabwe.
Dr Fallala, who trained at the Second Medical University in Moscow between 1976 and 1981, is among the skilled personnel who served the country when there were still a few trained black doctors operating in the country.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said the province had been left exposed following Dr Fallala’s demise.
“Dr Fallala was committed to giving quality service to the people of Zimbabwe and more so to Bulawayo residents.
She loved people and we are hurt with her death. It has shocked us, sometimes we find solace when someone dies after falling ill. But her sudden death due to an accident is more painful as it traumatises us who are left behind. We are left with questions we cannot answer,” said Minister Ncube.
“We mourn with the Fallala family, Bulawayo residents and the nation at large. We also mourn with freedom fighters at the loss of their compatriot. She participated in the liberation struggle and was dedicated to fighting injustices hence the reason she joined the liberation struggle. She fought for equal opportunities and through her service she aimed to provide equal opportunities for all.”
The Minister said she was in consultations with relevant institutions for Dr Fallala to be accorded due recognition for her works and service to the Bulawayo community.
“I’m in consultation with others at the moment. I can’t comment on what exactly we are doing but we are pushing for her recognition because her works already speak for herself. Automatically because she is a war veteran, she is being recognised as a heroine. But we are pushing that she gets recommended for a certain status,” said the Minister.
Bulawayo Provincial Medical Director Dr Maphios Siamuchembu said Dr Fallala’s death was a big loss for the province following her long service to the community.
“She was the pioneer of the family medicine practice specialty and she was teaching that at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) medical school. She has served the community of Bulawayo for many decades; a lot of people have been her patients and she has served humanity with determination and humility. A lot of people have had to learn something from her and doctors had continued to learn something from her,” said Dr Siamuchembu,
“She was a great asset to the province and the people of Bulawayo. We are really saddened that she had to depart suddenly under the circumstances that she has departed. We mourn together with her family. May it be comforted by the Lord.”
Her subordinates at Galen House said they were devastated by her death.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the medical institution yesterday, although it continued to provide services to patients.
Galen House administrator Ms Nothando Dube said by attending to patients, they were doing exactly what Dr Fallala would have wanted to do.
She said they will continue to carry on with her legacy describing her as an iron lady who never hesitated to speak her mind.
Ms Dube said it was worrying that Dr Fallala died within two years after her other partners Dr Nicholas Ndebele and Dr Gary Ferguson had also died.
“We are really at a loss following the death of Dr Fallala in a tragic accident on November 3. Dr Fallala was a mother to all of us. She was the senior personnel here. She had so much passion for her work. I think from 2015 she had not gone on leave; that shows so much passion about the place and she wanted to maintain the legacy of Galen House after the death of Dr Ndebele and Dr Ferguson,” said Ms Dube.
“She wanted the Bulawayo community to get all the services that she could offer. Just in October she was running a cancer awareness campaign and captured a lot of women and some men that had the condition and assisted them. She has stood by almost all the staff members, each and everyone one of us. She was very principled and she did not want things that would go haywire.”
She said Dr Fallala was a very private person but from time to time she would open up a bit about her life including that she did her secondary education in Kenya.
She said Dr Fallala would also tell them that she joined the liberation struggle and that is how she ended up in Moscow.
Ms Dube said while Dr Fallala was very private her works impacted a lot of people.
“She has really contributed to the development of the community. She would talk about political issues although she would not delve much into details. But she was passionate about the country, she worked very hard for the development of Zimbabwe. We are really at a loss. It was a shock and we are passing our condolences to the family.
We wish we could continue with her legacy as she did following the passing on of her other partners Dr Ferguson and Dr Ndebele,” she said.
When a Chronicle news crew visited Dr Fallala’s home in Ilanda suburb yesterday, the family said they will only be able to comment on her death today as they were still waiting for other relatives who are outside the country.
As the news of Dr Fallala’s death swept across the city, scores of city’s residents took to social media platforms to pay tribute to Dr Fallala outlining how she changed their lives.
Others spoke about how she delivered their babies while others narrated how she saved their lives.
Dr Fallala had a long career which started at Mpilo Central Hospital in 1981 before she was appointed an obstetrician and gynecologist at the same hospital in 1983 and served until 1989.
She then moved to the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council where she served as medical officer for the southern region from 1989 until 1992.
In 1992 she joined Galen House as a general practitioner and in 2014 she did further studies to become a Specialist Family Practitioner.
She joined Nust in 2018 where she served as family physician practitioner.
Dr Fallala was part of several medical professional bodies including Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA), College of Primary Care Physicians of Zimbabwe, World Organisation of Family Doctors.
She was also a councillor at Gwanda State University.