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Medics insist on self-regulation

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THE Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ) has rejected government moves to take over and regulate the training of junior doctors.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

Government recently made moves to amend the Health Professions Act (Chapter 27:19) to allow the Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology ministry to regulate the training of junior doctors.

All along, the MDPCZ has been regulating the training of junior doctors, including lobbying for an improvement in their working conditions.

The MDPCZ is a statutory body established in terms of Section 29 of the Health Professions Act (Chapter 27:19) whose responsibility is to regulate the medical and dental professions in Zimbabwe.

The functions of the council inter-alia are to register, educate and discipline the medical and dental professionals.

“The proposal by the Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development ministry to assume control of the training of junior residential medical officers (JRMOs) by amendment of the (Health Proffessions) Act without consensus from MDPCZ and the medical and dental profession at large poses a very serious concern to the council with ramifications to eligibility of registration and its support for such qualifications on the international platform,” Josephine Mwakutuya, registrar of the MDPCZ said in a correspondence dated June 29, 2020.

Mwakutuya on Thursday confirmed the correspondence to NewsDay.

“We do confirm that the correspondence dated 29 June 2020 indeed originated from the council. It was part of the mandate of the council to inform and seek the views of the profession on the matter,” she said.

The MDPCZ correspondence was addressed to the Zimbabwe Anaesthetic Association, Zimbabwe Medical Association, Health Professions Authority, Association of Pathologists in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Association of Neurological Surgeons among other medical and dental associations in the country.

In the same correspondence, Mwakutuya said the MDPCZ did not see the reason why the medical and dental professions should not be allowed to be independently regulated like lawyers and engineers.

“It is common cause that the other professions that include the legal (Law Society of Zimbabwe) and engineering (Engineering Council of Zimbabwe) are closely and to a large extent closely and independently regulated professions through Acts of Parliament,” Mwakutuya wrote to the medical and dental associations.

“Council therefore takes great exception to the proposed amendment of the Health Professions Act (Chapter 27:19) to effectively remove control and supervision of the training of medical and dental practitioners away from those who train and register them. I have therefore been directed by the council to seek the view of the profession on this proposal to reach this office by not later than 15 July, 2020.”

Former president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association of Zimbabwe (ZHDAZ) Peter Magombeyi said attempts to strip the MDPCZ of powers to regulate the training of junior doctors should be outrightly rejected.

“Efforts to drag the training of interns and take them back to Higher and Tertiary Education ministry should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. This is a way of enslaving the junior doctors and jeopardize their recognition with international boards,” Magombeyi said.

Government has in the past used scare tactics including withholding pay and firing junior doctors when they embark on strike action.

In November 2019, the Health Service Board said it fired the striking doctors after the Labour Court ruled that the industrial action was illegal and ordered the doctors to unconditionally go back to work.

The doctors had been on strike for more than three months demanding a salary raise and improved working conditions.

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