Unregistered ‘doctor’ allowed to practiseBy: DENVER KISTING
THE lives of Namibians who rely on State hospitals may be at the mercy of doctors with questionable qualifications allowed to work at these facilities without rigorous vetting and registration by the Health Professions Council.
These doctors are granted authorisation by the Ministry of Health and Social Services despite having been prohibited by the regulatory council to practice as medical doctors in Namibia.
The Government has been bringing in doctors from countries such as Cuba to address the growing demand for medical services in the public sector. However, these doctors are not registered with the Health Professions Council, which says they can only take action against doctors registered with the council.
This raises the question of who takes responsibility for the actions of these unregistered doctors.
At the centre of the latest controversy of a ‘practising’ unregistered doctor is Martin Blair, who resigned from the Katutura State Hospital two months ago under a cloud of accusations of alleged incompetence and insufficient training as a doctor.
When the health ministry offered him a position in the internal medicine ward at this hospital, it applied to the council for Blair to be registered.
Cornelius Weyulu, deputy registrar at the council, yesterday said Blair’s application had been turned down “because he didn’t meet the minimum requirements”.
After resigning from the public service, Blair is alleged to have joined a private clinic at Okahandja – Oyetu Clinic, allegedly run by a retired nurse.
It is not known how many ‘Dr Blairs’ are practising as medical doctors without proper training and qualifications.
Call to Oyetu clinic this week confirmed that Blair works there.
Should this be the case, Weyulu charged, “he’s doing so illegally”.
After being informed about Blair’s alleged involvement at a private practice by The Namibian, Weyulu yesterday afternoon confirmed that the council had launched an investigation into his affairs after having said earlier that they could only discipline registered doctors.
Should it be established that Blair is practising illegally, he will be reported to the Police.
Weyulu said it was decided to turn down Blair’s application for registration as “the papers” he presented indicated that he had not studied for a minimum period of five years.
Furthermore, Weyulu said, the subjects which he claims to have studied are not in compliance with the council’s minimum requirements. “He has papers, but what he presented to us is not sufficient for us. He’s not registrable in Namibia.”
Weyulu did not want to comment on the authenticity of Blair’s degree certificates. “We cannot go into the authenticity of his papers. That onus [of validity] rests on him.”
Under certain circumstances – when there are prospects of upgrading one’s qualifications – the council grants provisional registration, Weyulu said. “But he didn’t even qualify for conditional registration.”
By yesterday afternoon, the permanent secretary in the health ministry, Kahijoro Kahuure, had not responded to written questions about Blair’s situation.
The Namibian wanted to know from him whether it was true that the ministry had employed Blair after the council refused to register him, as well as what Blair’s qualifications are.
Kahuure was also asked how many unregistered doctors are currently in the public service.
Blair yesterday denied that he was practising as a doctor. He claimed that he was “just consulting” with other doctors – both at Okahandja and from Ghana – who need “some advice”.
According to him, he does not “get paid a single penny” for this.
He admitted that he was not registered with the Health Professions Council but claimed to be “a specialist in internal medicine”.
Blair refused to say where he had done his specialisation or his medical studies.
He said he needed to hang up, because he was “busy buying a dialysis machine for the people of Namibia”.
In October last year, it was reported that Blair, who apparently joined the State health system in September, had administered a “miracle cure” to a liberation veteran, Victor Mwashindange, which allegedly enabled Mwashindange to walk after having been in a wheelchair for 15 years.
At the time, Blair was quoted as saying: “I just knew from the moment I was told that Mwashindange was paralysed, I should put him on both Vitamin B12 and folic acid, knowing that the body must react to either of them.”
Mwashindange committed suicide in December.