Health Ministry responds to medical graduates’ practice rights concerns

On 13 February 2024 at 11:57

The Ministry of Health has spoken out about the ongoing concerns surrounding a significant number of medical graduates, encompassing nurses, midwives, and other healthcare practitioners, who find themselves barred from entering professional practice due to various barriers.

Julien Mahoro Niyingabira, a spokesperson for the Ministry, shed light on the predicament facing over 200 individuals, predominantly those with educational credentials from abroad, including a portion with degrees deemed invalid.

This development follows inquiries by journalist Hakuzwumuremyi Joseph, who brought to light the plight of medical graduates in Rwanda who are unable to engage in their trained professions. This is in stark contrast to community health workers, who, despite lacking formal degrees but having undergone specific training programs, are actively involved in delivering medical services.

Hakuzwumuremyi raised concerns over the apparent disparity where graduates, despite possessing qualifications from various institutions, are sidelined in favor of their lesser-educated but trained counterparts. A significant hurdle identified is the failure to pass examinations set forth by the Medical Council, a mandatory step for entry into the field.

Furthermore, the journalist delved into potential issues within the Medical Council, including allegations of corruption and mishandling of examinations, questioning if resolving these matters could aid in integrating graduates into the healthcare system more smoothly.

In response, Niyingabira detailed that the affected cohort includes those who have yet to pass the council’s examinations—tests that are conducted quarterly—and must therefore attempt them again. Additionally, there are cases of individuals presenting credentials from unrecognized institutions or falsely claiming medical education backgrounds.

Niyingabira also addressed instances of individuals alleging to have studied overseas, which upon investigation by the Higher Education Council (HEC) and other bodies, turned out to be unfounded, supported by evidence proving they had not left the country.

However, he recognized that there are graduates who fulfill all requirements yet experience delays in receiving their professional licenses. He assured that efforts are underway, in collaboration with the HEC, to streamline the licensing process while maintaining stringent qualification checks to safeguard patient welfare.

On the topic of community health workers, Niyingabira emphasized their role as an extension to the services provided by medical professionals in primary care settings, underscoring Rwanda’s dedication to both increasing the number of qualified doctors and enhancing the overall quality of healthcare services.

The issue of fraudulent qualifications is escalating, as underscored by a recent HEC analysis of 1,000 foreign degree verification applications, which found that 10% of the applicants falsely claimed education histories in the countries from where they purported to have obtained their degrees.