Zambia: Withdrawing 5800 health licences to save lives?

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Zambian authorities could be forced to de-register more than 5,800 health practitioners, including medical doctors as they have not renewed their 2009 practicing certificates.

Medical Council of Zambia (MCZ) registrar, Mary Zulu told the media on Wednesday in Lusaka hat only 34 per cent of the registered members had
paid up for this year and warned that the MCZ would deregister all the defaulting doctors and other health practitioners. Only 2,948 practitioners out of 8,770 in the MCZ register had so far renewed their certificates as at March 31, 2009. According to her, “out of 1,600 medical doctors in the country, only 610 had renewed the membership to the council while out of the 2,560 clinical officers, only 800 had paid up”.

In addition of the more than 1,100 environmental health technicians, only 248 had renewed their certificates and of 274 physiotherapy technologists, only 86 had renewed their practising papers by March 31, 2009.

Speaking for the MCZ, Dr Zulu said that these figures indicated a worrisome trend from the medical practitioners and that the defaulting members were going to be dealt with immediately. “The failure by medical practitioners to renew their licences calls for sanctions and other remedial measures ranging from penalties to complete deregistration,” she said.

Decision will save lives

The statutory body’s decision to take action against those who were violating its rules was in the interest of the public who risked falling into the hands of unqualified medical personnel and going to medical facilities that were not fit for medical purposes, she said.

Dr Zulu said it was important for all the people who wished to practice medicine to be cleared and regulated by MCZ or they would be a danger to unsuspecting members of the public. “It is illegal for a medical practitioner to conduct business without a renewed and valid certificate because they do not have the mandate to practice in Zambia,” Dr Zulu said.

She said MCZ would not falter in its regulatory functions and warned those who were flouting the Medical and Allied Professionals’ Act to pay up and provide the services freely.

In the next few days names of practitioners who had duly renewed their
practising certificates would be announced. “Not withstanding the circumstance or reasons for non-renewal of certificates or licences, the Medical and Allied Professionals’ Act chapter 297 of the laws of Zambia proscribes or bans the practice by a professional without a valid licence,” she said.

Health file  The lack of education and political will, poverty, out-moded traditional beliefs, to mention but a few, have been widely blamed for causing severe and sometimes unwarranted health catastrophies of genocidal proportions on the African continent. Child killer diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, water borne diseases, HIV/AIDS, among other preventable ailments have killed millions in their wake. As rightly said by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on May 13, 2000 "More people (...) died of Aids in the past year (1999-2000, ndlr) in Africa than in all the wars on the continent".
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