The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) on Tuesday warned about an increase in people masquerading as medical practitioners using fake qualifications to ply their trade.
They ranged from paediatricians and neurologists to backstreet abortionists ”operating under the most dismal and unhygienic circumstances imaginable”, said Denise White, chairperson for the South African Medical Association.
”We have been aware for some considerable time of their existence, but there is nothing we can do about the situation other than raise awareness … The best advice I can give to the public is to check the qualifications and HPCSA registration of any practitioner that they may have doubts about.”
The council said it was concerned about the increasing number of people faking their qualifications and the ”flood of advertisements” by bogus doctors claiming to be experts in abortion.
Ina van der Merwe, chief executive of international background screening company Kroll, said between 15% and 18% of qualifications were fraudulent.
”Many have impressive fake diplomas from top universities complete with wax seals hanging in their offices that look exactly like the real thing, but are as fake as a R7 bank note,” she said in a statement.
Council registrar advocate Boyce Mkhize added that only qualified medical doctors were allowed to terminate pregnancies.
”We are concerned about the mushrooming of these illegal practitioners as they not only put the lives of people at risk due to unscientific methods … but that they cannot be held accountable by the HPCSA in [the] case of negligence and complications …”
He said the council had no jurisdiction over bogus doctors and anyone ”masquerading” as a medical practitioner should be reported to the police as it was a criminal act to do so. — Sapa