35 Medical Students Denied Certification

THIRTY-FIVE University of Namibia School of Medicine sixth-year students cannot go for internship because the school is not accredited so they cannot be cleared by the Health Professions Council of Namibia (HPCNA).

The Namibian has run several stories on the stand-off between the medical school and the Ministry of Health and Social Services as well as the health professions council.

Unam’s vice chancellor, Lazarus Hangula was not available when approached for comment yesterday, while the dean of the medical school, Peter Nyarango, did not answer his phone.

Sources told The Namibian that the latest stand-off was caused by the medical school’s attempt to circumvent HPCNA and seek accreditation with the Namibia Qualifications Authority.

According to the sources, the medical school tried to avoid the HPCNA because it failed to meet requirements for accreditation last year.

The failure of the 35 students to go on internship triggered a boycott by 65 fifth-year students who were supposed to start classes on 12 January.

They demand that Unam should address all the uncertainties and that the medical school is accredited with the HPCNA.

In addition, the students demand that Unam assures them that, once they

graduate, they will be able to register as medical interns by the health professions council and ultimately qualify as medical practitioners.

The students had given Unam until the end of yesterday to respond, otherwise they would approach the Ombudsman.

A report containing some issues, including subjects that were not taught because the school did not have lecturers, was submitted to the university.

Unam spokesperson John Haufiku confirmed the list of demands by the students and said that the leadership would be meeting to issue a response by the deadline yesterday.

“I have all the answers but unfortunately communication of this nature has to be checked by the vice chancellor and there are a lot of developments. The matter is still unfolding,” he said.

“I know that we’ve taken a lot of decisions already and some of those demands the students are making have been resolved, which have not been communicated yet, like the sixth-year programme and things like that, but I will only be able to give you a good position later,” he said.

Meetings held between Unam, the Ministry of Education, the health professions council and the Ministry of Health and Social Services yesterday had not yielded any results by end of day, sources said.

Furthermore, sources said that part of the stand-off is that the university employs lecturers who are allegedly not registered with the HPCNA.

The other contentious issue is the demand that Unam should push the programme to six years as opposed to the current five in line with the health professions council’s regulations.

The health professions senior manager for professional affairs, Chrispin Mwafila, said the qualifications should be accredited by the council but that recommendations which were given to Unam had not been implemented yet for council to give final approval.

“Once Unam complies, we will not have a problem with students. We cannot be lenient to students if Unam does not comply because they are not going to do accounting when someone makes a mistake. Here we are talking about human lives. We have to do the right thing from the beginning for the safety of the people of Namibia,” Mwafila said.

He added that when a medical student completes their sixth year, they must first register as an intern and once they meet the requirements, they can be registered to practise.

“When they finish their fifth year, they cannot come to us. They will come to us when they have done their sixth year. This is supposed to be a six-year programme, and this is why students demand that Unam complies with the six-year programme requirement,” he explained.

Mwafila said the affected students “need to force Unam to comply”.

“Interview Unam, so that it can tell you what the problem is why is it not referring the students to us for registration? It’s because they do not meet the requirements. We don’t know what the problem is. We inspected the university twice and communicated to its management but no one responded to tell us what the university is planning to do,” he said.

He said the council was the ‘gateway’ and that “those students will not be allowed to touch any patient without being registered. They will not be allowed to practise without being registered”.

Source : The Namibian