HEALTH Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ) Senior Public Relations Officer Terry Musonda has denied claims that the council reintroduced licensure examinations as a way of earning income.

Responding to claims by Resident Doctors Association of Zambia president Dr Brian Sampa that HPCZ had no other source of income and hence wanted to use the licensure examinations for the same, Musonda said the reintroduction of licensure examinations was simply a mechanism of assuring the quality of health care services that were provided to the public.

“HPCZ is mandated by law to assure the quality of health care services that are provided to the public and licensure examination is one such mode of assurance. Licensure examinations were conducted by HPCZ even when the mandate for recognition and approval of health training programmes was still the preserve of the Council. Therefore, the allegation that this is merely a source of income is false. The fees for Licensure exams remain the same i.e. as was charged before the change in policy,” Musonda said.

“The licensure examinations are a transparent process, assessing basic knowledge skills in each registrable health profession. Provided a health practitioner demonstrates adequate knowledge and skills, then entry on the professional register is guaranteed. Therefore, the examinations are not a political ploy to control numbers of health workers, rather they are a mechanism of assuring the quality of health care services that are provided to the public as mandated by the law. Licensure examinations are merely an additional quality assurance measure that also exists in many other jurisdictions.”

He argued that licensure examinations were also a comparable regional and international best practice.

“Section 4 (1) of the Health Professions Act No. 24 of 2009 outlines that the functions of the council are to, among others: develop, promote, maintain and improve appropriate standards of qualification in the health profession; Protect and assist the public in all matters relating to the practice of the health profession; Do all such things as are necessary or incidental to the performance of its functions under this Act,” said Musonda.

“Further section 76 provides for the authority to issue the necessary guidelines for the administration of the functions of the council. It is on the basis of the above that the council draws its backing for licensure examinations for locally and foreign-trained health professionals. It is also worth noting that licensure examinations is a comparable regional and international best practice as advocated for by the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities (IAMRA) and the Association of Medical Councils in Africa (AMCOA) both of which the HPCZ subscribes to.”