Court opens door for foreign-trained doctors to begin careers in SA
Share this article:
Pretoria - At least 109 foreign trained doctors are a step closer to alleviate the critical shortage of doctors in the country.
This after the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, gave them the green light to either write the theoretical or do practical components of their board examinations.
These doctors have been unable to work – some for years – following red tape by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), which barred them from practising in the country because of certain policy guidelines.
They launched urgent court proceedings in a bid to get registered as medical professionals. Some said they have been sitting at home since 2019, after returning from studying at various medical institutions abroad.
In an urgent application which was not opposed by the HPCSA, nor in which they had filed any papers explaining the situation, the court interdicted the HPCSA from invoking the provisions of the Registration of Pathway for South African citizens who hold foreign medical qualifications.
The New Pathway Policy guidelines were earlier overturned during another unrelated court application, but the HPCSA still insisted that they be followed by the qualified doctors who returned to the country.
But after their victory last week over the medical watchdog, the doctors can now sit for their theory and practical exams this month. This will enable them to register with the HPCSA and proceed with their medical careers in South Africa.
The group said, in court papers, that they have been in limbo for up to two years and could not earn an income from their profession.
The doctors said that they desperately wanted to write the clinical exams required for foreign-trained doctors, so that they could get on with their lives
The medical watchdog barred them from being registered as health practitioners on the basis that they must follow the provisions of the New Pathway Policy Guideline.
Dr Nabiela Ragooloo, who qualified at the Anna Medical College in Mauritius in 2019, stated that she and other applicants were anxiously waiting to practise medicine.
She said because the country desperately needed doctors, it was in the public interest that foreign-qualified doctors wrote the necessary exams so they could formally register with the HPCSA.
All the applicants are South African citizens and have graduated from medical training institutions based in China, Mauritius, Romania, Ukraine and Malaysia.
Ragooloo said it was apparent that the hindrance to the registration of foreign-qualified doctors was caused by the implementation of the New Pathway Policy guideline.
Since this guideline was no longer applicable because it was earlier overturned by the court, the HPCSA has not invited them to sit for the exams.
All their repeated enquiries in this regard remained unanswered by the medical watchdog, and they had no choice but to turn to the court, she said.
In addition, they had all studied overseas on student visas, which were only valid until they graduated, which meant they had to come back home and earn a living in their home country.