Kampala, Uganda — Recent graduates from Makerere University have been blocked from registering and practicing as medical professionals by the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC), due to lack of certificates.
They include 135 Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery and 16 Bachelors of Dental Surgery graduates.
Dr Katumba Ssentongo, the practitioners' council Registrar in a letter dated August 19 told the graduates they can only be registered if they had internship completion certificates, academic transcripts and degree certificates.
The medics completed their one-year internship, a requirement after their degree courses to be able to practice as fully qualified as medical doctors in September this year.
They say the university has delayed to issue their certificates meaning they can't practice, yet.
Dr Bill Wambaka, a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery graduate says that without the graduation certificates, they cannot be allowed legally to practice medicine in the country.
In a letter written to the Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on 4th September, Dr Deogratius Opeta, another concerned graduate indicated that the delay had affected most of his colleagues and sought his intervention.
"Our registration as medical doctors is due to open on 1st October 2019 by the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council and among the key requirement for registration is a University Certificate," Dr Opeta wrote to Makerere.
However, at the time, the vice chancellor's response according to the copy of the letter which URN has seen was a comment to the Academic Registrar [AR] to handle.
When the students took their issues to social media, the Vice-Chancellor @ProfNawangwe indicated in a tweet sent out on Sunday afternoon; "The certificates are printed in Britain and the supplier has delayed us."
But Dr Wambaka says although the doctors are currently stuck, he has learnt from his predecessors that the certificate issue is a recurrent problem at Makerere University. He argues that the Vice-Chancellor was using Britain as a cover explanation to excuse the university's failure to issue the certificates in time.
But the graduates' lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde said whether certificates are printed in the UK or France, Makerere graduates and their respective employers expect the graduation certificates to be delivered promptly on or before graduation day.
"How can a university with a printing press of its own failure to deliver graduation certificates to its graduands on graduation day in the cyber age? The excuse that they are still vetting contractors who will deliver the security paper on which to print the certificates smacks of corruption and procurement malpractice," Ssemakadde said when contacted.
On Friday, October 11th, the graduate medics through their lawyers of Center for Legal Aid wrote to Makerere University to issue the certificates in a week's time, failure of which the university would be dragged to court.
"It is over one year since our clients completed their academic programs and over 8 months since they graduated from your good institution. This delay is excessive, unreasonable and unlawful and constitutes a breach of a statutory duty under section 23 and 45 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act read together with Section 34 (2) of the Interpretation Act Cap 3 Laws of Uganda," the lawyers said in a letter to the University Secretary.
Adding that; "We note that our clients' numerous requests and reminders have been adamantly ignored and or neglected. Your wanton neglect of our clients' demands have caused them untold frustration and loss of employment opportunities."