The Ugandan government is taking steps to introduce standardized pre-entry exams for medical interns before they begin their work in hospitals across the country. This move comes as a response to concerns from the public regarding the declining quality of interns graduating from medical training institutions.
The Ministry of Health is currently working on a new draft policy outlining these proposed exams. Once finalized, this policy will be presented to the Cabinet for review before it is taken to Parliament for consideration.
Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, emphasized that the policy aims to streamline medical training and enhance service delivery within the healthcare sector. She stressed the need to reevaluate the criteria for admission to medical training institutions and to address the issue of excessive student enrollment, which may have led to a decrease in training quality.
Dr. Atwine also mentioned that the policy will focus on restructuring the examination process to assess the quality of trainees more effectively. These changes are part of broader efforts to ensure the country produces high-quality medical professionals.
Speaking at the Joint Annual Scientific Health Conference 2023 in Entebbe, Dr. Atwine acknowledged the significant increase in the number of medical interns. She stated that, given the critical nature of medical care, maintaining high standards in medical training and practice is paramount.
However, Dr. Herbert Luswata, the Secretary-General of the Uganda Medical Association, challenged the government’s role in overseeing the quality of medical interns in the market. He pointed out that it is the government’s responsibility, through bodies like the Uganda Medical and Practitioners Council, to supervise medical schools and ensure they meet the necessary requirements for training, including faculty and equipment.
Dr. Luswata emphasized the need for improved supervision both during training and in practice. He welcomed the government’s efforts to establish an internship policy but raised concerns about the type of exams that medical students would face. He suggested that entry exams into medical schools and national exit exams upon graduation would be more effective in regulating the number and quality of future doctors.
Dr. Luswata cautioned against subjecting already graduated doctors to pre-internship exams, as failing such exams could lead them to practice without licenses, potentially compromising the quality of healthcare in the future.