New regulations from the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) would leave internationally-trained South African doctors unable to practise here until they had completed a one-year university-supervised internship, reports The Mercury.
According to the HPCSA’s latest policy guidelines published in July, South African citizens who hold such qualifications must apply to attend a South African university for one year, in which they would complete a 12-month internship at local hospitals.
Only then would they be accepted to complete the practical portion of the SA Medical Board exams which, if passed, would allow them to practise. In addition to the policy guidelines, at least 55 qualified doctors were told that they could not proceed at all with registering for the one-year internship and board exams as the HPCSA no longer recognised the institutions at which they studied.
The group of doctors, represented by Advocate Rene Govender, of the SA Internationally Trained Health Professionals Association, have since issued a letter of demand to the HPCSA to accept and recognise these universities or face legal action. They are South African citizens who have graduated from medical training institutions based in China, Guyana and Romania.
HPCSA chairperson Dr Kgosi Letlape said it was the HPCSA’s responsibility to license those who were safe and vetted. However, according to one of the affected doctors, the medical councils in other countries were accepting doctors who qualified at the same institutions, and it was only South Africa that had snubbed graduates.
The graduates are South African citizens who have graduated from medical training institutions based in China, Guyana and Romania.
Speaking to The Mercury, Dr Kalvin Maharaj from Pietermaritzburg, who studied at the Hebei North University in China, said he was one of 54 doctors in the country who had been denied the right to practise medicine as their university was no longer recognised by the HPCSA.
He said that all the applicants had attempted to make an application to the HPCSA to write the board exam, but were told either verbally or in writing that their applications would not be processed, as per the decision of the HPCSA to review the curriculum offered at the universities from which they had graduated.Full report in The Mercury (subscribers only)