Medical Bill lands at Bunge Committee
FINALLY, the government has presented the Medical, Dental and Allied Health Professionals Bill, 2016 to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Community Services and Development, which seek to transform the medical council into an autonomous body.
The bill, which is to be debated today by health stakeholders before members of the committee will - upon approval by the committee and later the Parliament, replace the previous Medical and Dental Act No. 152 of 1959.
Detailing about the new law, Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and the Elderly Minister Ummy Mwalimu said it will set new guidelines at which the Medical Council of Tanganyika will operate.
“This includes the requirement that the council’s chairman will be nominated from members of the profession and not the Chief Medical Officer,” she said.
“The current law is outdated.
There are new challenges, which under the existing law cannot be addressed,” she said, highlighting such new developments as increasing the number of health institutions, increasing medical and dental graduates and framing new technologies for health service provisions.
When the National Assembly approved the 1959 law, Tanzania had only one health institution - Muhimbili -- but 50 years now, there are eight institutions.
Back in the 2000s, there were only 79 doctors, much lower than the current over 1,000 medical doctors. During the period under review, the country had only 300 dentists as opposed to the existing more than 5,000 today. “The health sector has been changing enormously.
We now have nutritionists, psychologists and physiotherapists as health professionals, but the existing council is only mandated to oversee medical doctors and dentists,” Ms Mwalimu noted.
“This has caused other specialised clinics not to be registered until they have a doctor or a dentist,” she observed.
However, the minister further noted that under the new bill, individuals were forbidden to self-proclaim themselves as doctors until they possess a number of requirements that include a medical degree.
Notwithstanding the 1959 law that set up the post of registrar, the bill presses it as mandatory that the registrar shall be appointed from within the profession.
The current registrar is a lawyer by profession. It also sets a window for introduction of assistant registrar, a post that does not exist under the current legislation.
Therefore, the bill according to the minister will identify requirements and rulesincluding disciplinary actions to be taken against health professionals by the council.
“This bill creates equal standards and monitoring of medical professionals across the region,” she defended the bill before the Committee Chairman, Mr Peter Serukamba.
Kigamboni MP and member of the committee, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, giving an expert view, lauded the government for tabling the new bill, saying it will help to tackle new challenges facing the health sector.