• May 24th, 2019
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Aggrieved trainee doctors petition PM

WINDHOEK –A group of about 50 foreign trained medical graduates yesterday marched to the Zoo Park where they handed a petition to a representative from the Office of the Prime Minister. 

They want the PM to direct the Ministry of Health and Social Services to act promptly and in “good faith” to hear their grievances on pre-internship evaluations of foreign-trained medical and dental graduates addressed to the Health Professions Council of Namibia (HPCNA).  

Only two out of 240 foreign-trained medical and dental students passed the board examinations late last year. This raised concerns with the medical graduates who claim that the evaluation process is ‘unfair.’

The trainee doctors started their demonstration from the Doctors Quarters at the Windhoek Central hospital and with a police escort and the support of some parents marched to the Zoo Park. They carried placards that read, “well moderated exams,” “we want fair exams,” “we want justice.” 

They want HPCNA to establish an education committee to ensure quality assurance of examinations while also moderating the examinations. 

They also want government not to overlook the fact that they were trained over six years “on tax payers money” to get where they are today. 

The Council should through the education committee ensure that medical and dental graduates are “appropriately examined” at their level of knowledge, skills and competence as required by the Medical and Dental Act, reads a portion in the petition.  

Prior to seeking audience with the Office of the Prime Minister, the medical graduates who studied in countries such as Ukraine, Russia and China among others exhausted avenues such as the Health Professions Council of Namibia and the Ministry of Health and Social Services and their concerns were not entertained. 

One of their main concerns is the pre-internship evaluations process, which they have to undergo. 
“This evaluation is solely taken by foreign trained medical graduates. It is discriminatory to subject us to an evaluation where other graduates from the University of Namibia medical school are not subjected to,” reads the petition by the aggrieved medical graduates. 

They argued that the evaluation was not designed by the Health Professions Council of Namibia. “In fact, there is something wrong going on. We understand that some time ago, the Government approved the creation of the Health Professions Council of Namibia, but the law does not recognise this body. It does not exist anywhere in the laws of the country. What we can only conclude here is that we are subjected to an examination by an illegal entity,” reads the petition.  They further said the HPCNA does not have an Education Committee to set out and administer examinations for foreign-trained doctors. 

“We do not even know who set the examination, marked it and who moderated it. We are supposed to be regulated by the Medical and Dental Council not by the so-called Health Professions Council of Namibia which is not recognised by the law,” reads a portion of the petition. 

The medical graduates further allege that the evaluation that took place on 28 and 29 November last year meant to determine the basic medical knowledge and skills in general medicine, general surgeory, obstetrics and gynaecology and pediatrics was changed to six domains which included TB/HIV/Malaria and Biostatistics, medical ethics and psychiatry.  The change of domains was communicated 21 days before the examination, added the medical graduates.

“This was very unfair and uncalled for exercise of discretion by the Council officials concerned considering that the allocated time remained the same and the changes were notified a mere 21 days before evaluation,” said the medical graduates. 

They also questioned the legitimacy of the remedial programme offered by the HPCNA, saying the same unfairness of discrimination perpetrated against foreign-trained medical doctors vis-à-vis Unam students. “This stigma should not be allowed to continue in this country which is desperate for medical doctors and dentists among other medical professionals,” reads part of the petition. 

The HPCNA Deputy Registrar Chrispin Mafwila said that  the HPCNA has the responsibility to regulate the practice of the medical and dental professions and for protecting the public.  “It is therefore serving the dignity of these professions and the interest of the public if the Council continues to set the standards that ensure knowledge, competency and skills-based professions. In doing so, Council will always act fairly and reasonable towards its clients including, medical and dental graduates. However, the onus is on every graduate to demonstrate to the Council through meeting the prescribed requirements, including passing the evaluations, that he or she is entitled to registration,” said Mafwila. Evaluating health care professionals who obtained qualifications from foreign countries is not peculiar to Namibia but a common practice worldwide, he added.

 Mafwila further added that,In Namibia, a foreign trained medical or dental graduate is entitled to three chances of evaluations per application.  “At the same time, he or she has a choice to enroll for a twelve months practical training programme, which is a government-initiated strategy aimed at assisting graduates to bridge the knowledge, skills and competence gaps in preparation for the Council evaluation,” he explained.  

The practical training programme mainly takes place in the state hospitals and health facilities under the supervision of experienced medical and dental practitioners and specialists, he added. 

Alvine Kapitako
2019-02-15 09:33:01 3 months ago

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