The High court in Kampala has ordered the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council to forward a list of King Ceasor University (KCU) students to the ministry of Health for internship deployment across the country.
This follows a decision by the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council not to forward the names of more than 100 students of KCU for internship deployment. But now in his November 30 decision, justice Musa Ssekaana issued an order of mandamus (an immediate order) compelling the council to forward the names of the applicants and other medical graduates from KCU for the national medical internship programme.
Ssekaana also declared that the applicants and all medical graduates from King Ceasor who completed their bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery have a right to be deployed for internship and the decision not to deploy them was illegal.
Two students; Brian Munyambabazi and Ronald Masereka sued the attorney general and the Uganda Medical and Dental Council seeking a declaration that the decision to exclude them and 136 other graduates from KCU in the internship placement was unfair, illegal, unlawful, biased, unreasonable, unenforceable, irrational, null and void and of no legal effect.
Records show that although the attorney general has been exonerated for having been sued wrongly, on July 27, 2023, the ministry of Health issued a press release wherein it communicated that it had received clearance to deploy medical interns to 58 internship centers across the country.
The ministry released a deployment list for the interns under revised terms as guided by the government indicating that they were to deploy 1,901 medical interns within the available budget of a net monthly allowance of Shs 1 million per intern to facilitate accommodation and feeding and that all interns were expected to report to their various training centers by August 3, 2023.
A day later, the ministry forwarded the list of medical interns to the internship placement centers. The list had medical graduates from all universities teaching bachelors of medicine and surgery (MBCh.B) in Uganda and outside Uganda except for medical students from KCU.
The applicants said they studied their course for five years and graduated and as such, in refusing to deploy them and their classmates it was irrational, unreasonable, and unfair more so, since there was no reason given for failure to deploy them.
Ass. Prof Joel Okullo, the chairperson of Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council opposed the case saying the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), together with the council in the exercise of its statutory duty unanimously agreed that the graduates from KCU of the MBChB program could not be forwarded for the pre-registration.
This, he said was after two inspections including one done by the 3rd Joint East African Community Medical and Dental Practitioners Councils/boards inspection team conducted found that it did not meet the minimum standards for training medical students registrable in the East African Community.
They said they had the duty of safeguarding society against ill-trained, unqualified, and inexperienced medical practitioners. However, the students insisted that their university’s medical school was accredited by NCHE to teach bachelor of Medicine and bachelor of Surgery and this accreditation has never been withdrawn.
Court heard that the university has all the facilities to teach the course and during the 3rd, 4th and 5th years when the students do clinicals in Mulago, Kiruddu and Kawempe hospitals together with students from Makerere University. Further, it was noted that the students are taught and trained by the same staff at these hospitals and some of the Medical Council staff have taught the students of King Ceasor University throughout this period of five years.
In his decision, Ssekaana ruled that actions of the Medical Council in refusing to recognize medical graduates of KCU would amount to usurping the powers of the NCHE which is mandated to accredit universities to teach medical courses. He said the exercise of the power conferred under the Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council should not be interpreted to render another statutory body useless or subservient to its authority.
Ssekaana said he was satisfied that the university is licensed by the NCHE to teach the profession in question and there is no way their successful graduates cannot be deployed for internship.
“The 1st respondent/Medical Council pursued a purpose outside the four corners and took in irrelevant considerations and they have failed to set out reasons for the decision of denying the applicants and other graduates of King Ceasor University. The absence of reasons may infer that the 1st respondent pursued a purpose that is different from the one that is empowered under the law," said Ssekaana.