The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Health Professionals' Council in the Pipeline

THE Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday passed a draft law establishing the Rwanda Allied Health Professions' Council, after approving the report and work done by the Standing Committee on Social Affairs.

During an extraordinary session, MP Esperance Mwiza, the chairperson of the committee, reminded the House that apart from providing a necessary regulatory framework, the law is among instruments that will facilitate King Faisal Hospital-Kigali to undergo a second accreditation phase early next year.

The new assessment will be conducted by the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA), a South African-based NGO that helps healthcare facilities on the continent to meet and maintain quality standards.

Shortly after MPs passed the bill, Christine Ukize, a legal advisor in the Ministry of Health, told The New Times that the law is mainly important because it will help regulate the profession.

Ukize said: "Many of these professionals operate without proper regulation. There has been no organ to regulate them, know their number, where they operate from, their scope of practice and educational background, all of which are important to know."

Ukize said some are already undergoing training abroad, and when they return, it will be good having a suitable legal framework in place.

"Even regional practitioners mainly from the EAC member states who come to work in Rwanda due to free movement of labor, must find a good regulatory framework," he explained.

Allied health professions are healthcare professions distinct from dentistry, nursing, medicine, and pharmacy.

There are 21 categories recognized in the bill and among these are; anaesthetic technicians, audiologists, clinical technologists, dental therapists, dieticians, environmental health officers, hearing aid acousticians, nutritionists and oral hygienists among others.

They usually make up a big percentage of the total health workforce.

Daniel Ledama, a clinical psychologist who graduated from the National University of Rwanda (NUR), this year, welcomed the development.

Ledama told The New Times that: "This is actually good news. We need licensing as clinical psychologists so that we can be able to do private practice. Before, there was no institution to license clinicians," he noted.

According to the legislation, in case one's application is unsuccessful, he or she may seek recourse from the Chairperson of the Board of Directors in not more than 30 days from the date they were notified of the decision.

Apart from the allied health professions council bill, the others before parliament include those establishing three new councils; the pharmacy council, the medical and dental councils.

The three others included the drugs and food regulation bill and the Rwanda Biomedical Council (RBC) bills.

All these bills have been passed.

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