Solidarity won a case of contempt of court against the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) after it refused access to the admissions exam to one of Solidarity’s members. This comes after, now doctor Igme Strauss, graduated from an internationally accredited university in Romania, but was refused access to the admissions exam by South African authorities.
According to Solidarity, the issue of her registration to write the admissions exam and qualify as a medical doctor in South Africa was resolved by a court order last year, but the order was disregarded by the HPCSA. Further legal action has now ensured her access to the examination.
“During a time of a medical crisis attributed to the shortage of medical doctors and personnel, and a government who attempts to fill the gaps with Cuban doctors in the meanwhile, the HPCSA considered it fine to prevent a qualified South African from chasing her dreams and possibly contributing to our healthcare system. It is also ironic to mention that one of her fellow students could register to write the exam, but she could not,” said Anton van der Bijl, Head of Legal Matters at Solidarity.
According to this court ruling, doctor Igme Strauss should have been able to write her admissions exam in September 2021 already. Despite this, the HPCSA found itself guilty of contempt of court, and Solidarity had to threaten with further legal action before this court order was complied with.
“The crux of the matter comes into play when one considers that the HPCSA questions an internationally accredited university’s qualification in the case of one student but not in the case of another. This is not just unfair; it is also unheard of that there is no place in the South African medical sector for a qualified South African. Back in December 2020 the Johannesburg High Court ruled that students such as Ms Strauss may write admission exams, but the HPCSA is blaming administrative shortages and red tape for its negligent actions in this regard,” Van der Bijl explained.
Solidariteit further contends that there simply is no room for such excluding behaviour and actions of superiority, given the current state of affairs in the medical industry. It has once again been proven that archaic bureaucracy stands in the way of progress rather than helping to facilitate progress in times of need.
“We need doctors in South Africa, we need South African doctors, and they are here – ready to practise. However, the government’s response to a medical crisis is still to spend R250 million on foreign doctors rather than to empower those we already have to do their job. This ruling is a clear message that there simply is no time or place for red tape in the medical sector,” Van der Bijl concluded