Medical schools to be accredited afresh - Board

Daniel Yumbya, CEO, the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board
Daniel Yumbya, CEO, the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board

The inspections for accreditation begins this week. DANIEL YUMBYA, CEO of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board talks to John Muchangi and Monica Mwangi about the exercise

You announced another inspection of all medical and dental schools in Kenya. Tell more about this exercise.

This is a joint venture with the medical and dentists councils from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. We have already finalised schedule and programme. We shall inspect all our medical schools and the dental schools beginning Monday (today), till Friday. Of course, we only have two dental schools, at Moi University and the University of Nairobi (UoN).

Teams have been divided into two. Team A will inspect the Kenya Methodist University (Kemu), Mt Kenya University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat), and Kenyatta University. Team B will inspect medical schools in Egerton, Moi, Maseno and Uzima universities. On Thursday, both teams will inspect the University of Nairobi because UoN is a large institution and produces a high number of doctors, and everybody wants to take part in that.

Who will take part in these inspections?

The teams are composed of the chairmen of all the medical and dentists councils in East Africa, their CEOs or registrar and one member in charge of training committee. We have also representatives from the commission of university education and the ministry responsible for East African affairs, besides the Ministry of Health. We have developed regional guidelines and they have been approved by the ministers of health. We already inspected medical schools in Uganda in November last year. We will continue the inspections in Tanzania in March and Rwanda and Burundi in May.

What exactly are you checking?

Among other things, we are looking at the teaching facilities. We've have given all universities the lecturer-student ratio. We'll want to see how many lecturers are there in pre-clinicals and how many are there to teach clinical. Any university that doesn't meet the ratios will have sanctions imposed on them. We will also look at the teaching facilities, in terms of lecture halls and laboratory. We have given a ratio for microscopes because they are key in teaching and we have given ratios for cadavers - the dead bodies students use for study. We'll also look at the patient load in the teaching hospitals because every medical school has a teaching hospital. We want to see the level of involvement between the lecturers who teach in the university and those who work in the teaching hospital, and students interaction with patients because students must get this exposure.

You carried out a similar inspection six years ago. What did you find out?

That was the first inspection and we had a casualty. Moi University was starting their dental school and at that time, it didn't meet the criteria. The programme was suspended until they installed the required equipment. That suspension helped Moi University very much. They got funding from the senate and put up a good dental school, which we came to re-inspect. It is now equal to others in status. I do not want to preempt what will happen this time. In Tanzania, we also suspended recognition of International Medical Technologies University. Their graduates had to sit our exams for about three years – any new graduate from that university would not have been allowed to practise without sitting board exams. The advantage of institutions that have this accreditation is that their graduates receive the same level of recognition across the region without being given exams.

How frequent are these inspections?

They will be done after every five years. So the accreditation lasts five years. Institutions that fail must be reinspected within the timeliness to attain regional recognition.

Do you hope this will help crack down on quack doctors?

What it will sort out is the level of training. We want to have a certain level of training and minimum requirements for doctors trained within the region so that competencies can be uniform across the board. I must say Kenyan doctors are well trained. We also want to protect our people. With the East Africa free movement treaty, we are moving across the countries and seeking treatment there. You want to know that you're safe in any country and the person treating you has gone through rigorous training.

There is fear some medics suspended in some countries do come to practice here

We have regular meetings and we share information. The details of any doctor required to stop practising are shared across the borders. And when we conduct our tribunals, representatives from other East African councils come as observers. You cannot suspend any doctor for misconduct without constituting a tribunal. We also encourage them to invite us to their tribunals. There's a doctor who tried to forge documents to go to Uganda from here. He was stopped. Another one tried to forge documents from Rwanda. He was stopped. They also try to come here and we stop them. There's someone who forged Makerere (University) documents and we are in court with them. We also have a meeting about twice a year in Arusha, Tanzania, where our secretariat is, and there share information.