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Foreign-trained doctors to challenge regulations making it hard to work in SA

Foreign-trained medical practitioners are set to challenge regulations to repeat the entire process of writing a board examination should they fail the practical component of the test. Picture: File

Foreign-trained medical practitioners are set to challenge regulations to repeat the entire process of writing a board examination should they fail the practical component of the test. Picture: File

Published May 20, 2022

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Pretoria - Several foreign-trained medical practitioners will next week challenge the regulations making it hard for them to practise in South Africa.

The regulations, among others, require doctors with foreign qualifications to repeat the entire process of writing the board examination should they fail the practical component of the test.

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About 94 of these doctors will also ask the court to review and set aside the practice adopted by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to set a separate examination, in both components of the board examination, for candidates who have failed in either of the components.

The doctors also want the court to look at the other rules and regulations made by the HPCSA and the Medical and Dental Professional Board, which it said caused unnecessary delay and hindrance for foreign-trained medical practitioners who want to qualify to practise in South Africa.

Dr Kimira Rugnath, who lives in uMhlanga in KwaZulu-Natal, said in an affidavit filed with the court that all the applicants were South Africans who graduated from medical institutions in countries such as China, Ukraine and Turkey.

They have all applied to the HPCSA and the dental board to be registered so that they can practise in South Africa.

Rugnath said she had applied in July 2020 to be registered after she had graduated. She qualified as a medical doctor at the Shenyang Medical College in China.

Rugnath said she did not receive an answer and eventually handed in her application herself at the HPCSA, only to be told that the institution where she had studied was not recognised in South Africa. She said her fellow applicants said they had experienced similar problems.

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The HPCSA and the SA Internationally Trained Health Professions Association, which represents the interests of foreign-trained doctors, held talks to try to resolve these issues.

But Rugnath said nothing had come of these talks, and the foreign-trained doctors remained in limbo.

According to her, the HPCSA and the dental association have created various regulations which prevent these doctors from writing the board examinations so that they can be registered as interns.

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Rugnath said it was time that these regulations were reviewed and set aside, as they made life difficult for foreign-trained doctors who wanted to practise in South Africa.

One of the regulations which will come under legal scrutiny requires candidates to repeat the entire process of writing the board examination if they twice fail the practical component of this examination.

She said no board examinations were held in 2020, which caused a backlog in the entire process.

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Rugnath pointed out that South Africa was in dire need of more health practitioners, and those who obtained their qualifications from medical institutions outside the country could be of great value.

She said the process for registration and exams should be streamlined so that the foreign-trained doctors could start contributing to the health sector.

The HPCSA and other respondents, which include the Health Ministry, are expected to argue their cases on Tuesday.

Pretoria News

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