Only two out of 240 foreign-trained medical and dental graduates who sat for the Medical and Dental Councils board examinations in November passed the first part of the examination.
The medical students were trained in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, China, Cuba and Algeria. In order to do internships, the graduates have to pass the written and oral examinations that are mandatory and statutory.
Out of the 215 medical students, two passed the first part of the examinations-which was written in October.
None of the 30 dental graduates passed the examinations. Further, 139 medical graduates have to repeat the examinations while nine dental graduates have to repeat the examinations.
Also, 65 medical graduates have to undergo a remedial programme at the University of Namibia's School of Medicine at their own cost while 21 dental graduates have to undergo remedial programme.
The graduates said foreign-trained medical and dental graduates have been facing challenges since the introduction of the medical and dental council examinations in 2016.
"The exams were apparently set up to assess competency of foreign-trained medical and dental graduates but it seems the aim was diverted and instead it became a way of preventing Namibian medical graduates from practicing and also for individuals to make money from the already struggling graduates, most of who are from disadvantaged families by initiating monetary terms," said the affected graduates.
The results were released on 14 December. Not long after the results were released, a text message was send out by a certain Anna Hangula, a recent Unam School of Medicine graduate, offering to tutor the graduates for two weeks for N$1500 to N$3000 depending on whether it's one supplementary or more.
"We'll be giving daily tutorials on the different sections/modules, work through past Unam papers and a list of relevant reading materials. Many of the sections given to you were similar to the 6th year question papers we just wrote ourselves. It's a structure that we've been taught throughout our clinical years and therefore we are familiar with how to tackle/go about them. Especially since we've spent a lot of time with the lecturers who set up the questions, who are all consultants in the hospital. So we thought it will be helpful to share these tips with you," reads the message from Hangula.
The message was not well received by the foreign-trained doctors who wanted to know how Hangula knows what was asked in the examination. "How can they, being students, school medical graduates?
"Why do Unam graduates feel they are better than foreign-trained doctors to even train them?" asked a Russian trained doctor.
The foreign-trained medical and dental graduates also questioned the credibility of Professor Peter Nyarango and Professor CJ Hunter of the Unam School of Medicine in setting up the examination.
They alleged that Nyarango and Hunter are not registered with the Health Professions Council of Namibia. They also questioned if the two qualify to practice in Namibian hospitals should they not be registered with the council. New Era also contacted the Russian Alumni Association of Namibia (RAAN), which assisted the graduates with preparation for the board examinations through its mentorship programme early in November. The Public Relations Officer of RAAN, Frans Kalenga said the mentorship programme was attended by many of the medical graduates and was viewed as sufficient by the medical graduates and the Namibia Medical Society.
"The mentorship programme was conducted by medical consultants and medical officers who are currently supervising the internship programme at Namibian hospitals. These medical professionals provided a scheme of what is needed in internship. If the mentorship was deemed a success, why have such an illogical statistical outcome of the council exam if these medical professionals were on board?" questioned Kalenga. He further asked if the poor results reflect that the consultants and medical officers who mentored the graduates do not know what is required to practice medicine in Namibia.
"How on earth can Russia, Ukraine, China and Cuba train medical students who all cannot pass Namibian medical board?" he further asked. A source who spoke to New Era on condition of anonymity said the board exams can be passed. "It's just that those kids (graduates) are not serious." The source also remarked some of the medical graduates did not fulfil the minimum required points (scores) to practice medicine in number but were still admitted to study medicine abroad. However, RAAN said: "Before the Unam medical school was established, Namibia did not have national standards when it comes to Grade 12 minimum requirements entry points. As a result, some Namibians, through consultants and agencies managed to go and study abroad despite low Grade 12 points, normally paying for themselves for the first year and obtaining funding from the government as from the second year." The Registrar of Health Professions Council of Namibia, Cornelius Weyulu was not reachable when New Era tried to reach him. Chrispin Mafwila the Deputy Registrar at the council also refused to speak to New Era, saying, "I'm not allowed to give any information."
He said the council would only be able to comment on the matter from January 7th 2019, as it had closed for the festive season. The president of the Medical and Dental council, Dr Wilson Benjamin said "No comment" when New Era contacted him on the matter.
The Dean of the Unam School of Medicine Nyarango said he did not set the exam. "It was not set by one person," he added, explaining that it was set by a team of specialists in various domains, including surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics.
He said Unam is willing to share the question paper through the Health Professions Council of Namibia to any individual. He added that the council has prepared a thorough analysis on students' individual performance and how they could improve.
"The graduates should not distort the facts (saying he set the exam). Unam only gave them (council) technical support as most specialists are from Unam," added Nyarango.