The ACDP appeals to Health Minister to urgently ensure that the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is not allowed to prejudice young and aspiring doctors.

It is important to note that we are talking about South African students, who choose to study abroad, often because quotas in South Africa do not allow for high achieving students to get into Universities in South Africa to study the profession of their choice. These are not foreign students, they are South Africans.

The ACDP welcomes this opportunity to highlight the inefficiency of the HPCSA which is resulting in unethical consequences and the ACDP is appealing to the Minister of Health to urgently ensure the HPCSA is not allowed to prejudice young and aspiring doctors in this manner especially in our country that faces a dire shortage of doctors. This is a legal issue but it is also a human rights issue on many levels affecting service delivery in all communities.

An appeal was served in the High Court, Gauteng Division, on the 2 March 2018 as the HPCSA does not provide a tribunal or internal resolution process for lay foreign graduates. This is shocking when millions of people have little or no access to the High Courts of South Africa due to exorbitant costs.

The legal argument is that the HPCSA and their examination committee are applying the wrong regulation in using section 4 against students with foreign qualifications. Section 2 governs the students with foreign qualifications as they are categorised under interns.

Section 4 governs the registration of foreign qualified doctors to be admitted as general practitioners or specialists. The use of the wrong section is causing concern and great anxiety for students with foreign qualifications in South Africa and overseas and is forcing our young graduates to abandon their calling to the people of South Africa and having to use their medical training in other countries. The HPCSA is confusing students with foreign qualifications - with foreign qualified doctors applying for registration.

The ACDP, on behalf of affected and future students, is calling:

  • on the Minister of Health to ensure these discriminatory practices within the HPCSA affecting medical graduates stop;
  • for the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the discriminatory practices of the HPCSA and their examination committees for an investigation into the placement of foreign qualified graduates by the Department of Health in respect of internships and the prolonged administrative delays; and
  • for a review of regulations and a possible capping of the number of students going to study abroad so that proper mechanisms like sitting exams and adequate budgets are put in place;

The ACDP is calling:

  • for diplomatic ties to be forged with BRICS partners for
    discounting of fees and setting up hostels for South African students who have been bypassed by the Quota system of our education system of South Africa and to assist medical graduates in doing electives and clinical services in our training hospitals;
  • for a review of the present situation in which a shortage of doctors exists and yet qualified doctors and doctors in waiting remain unemployed; and
  • for budgets to be made available for private medical colleges to accommodate the brilliant graduates who are rejected by the present education department that works on the quota system.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE: "The plight of foreign qualified medical students who find themselves ineligible to sit for the Health Professions Council of SA board exams because of section 4 regulation contained in the Health Professions Act"
13 March 2018