Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Botswana medical body sued for discrimination

A local doctor has charged that Botswana Health Practitioners Council (BHPC)’s decision to refuse to register him was a result of discrimination.

Falling short of accusing the BHPC of colonial mentality, Dr Rotlhe Boalotswe who has since taken the BHPC to court said that “It would seem in their minds (BHPC) that Oral Maxillofacial Surgery training should be modelled after the Western medical systems while ignoring that the Asian Subcontinent has its own civilisation and their courses are not influenced by Western civilisation models.”

The BHPC argues that Boalotswe does not meet the minimum requirements to practice as a Specialist Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon.

Responding to allegations of discrimination, the then BHPC Registrar, Ogona Tshoswane states that “The issue of the involvement of foreigners in the BHPC structure is something that I addressed in my previous posting and wish to reiterate once more and for the record.”

According to Tshoswane, the BHCP does not discriminate against anybody based on ethnicity, race or country of origin.

“Foreign Health professional will continue to be involved in the BHPC based on their competencies, commitment and willingness to help the Council.  Any suggestion that the BHPC should discriminate against foreigners is simply unacceptable,” he said.

But Boalotswe denies suggestions that he was being racist. “I was surprised to be accused of making racist comments when all I did was point out my apprehensions about having foreigners dominating the BHPC and its various structures especially when there qualified Batswana to carry out the same duties foreigners are doing,” he said.

He wondered if it was not fair that before BHPC enlists foreigners, qualified and willing Batswana should be considered to be BHPC/Board members.

“Please note that I have studied in various countries and I’m yet to see any of them with their health professions councils/equivalents being manned by foreigners. I think the reason is clear and it apprehension that I was raising with the BHPC only to be misconstrued as being racist,” he says.

 “I must declare, I have respect for the BHPC, but it hurts me to see the organisation’s name being dragged in the mud by some of its board members. This kind of unprofessionalism only makes us as Batswana, question the credibility/quality of the work BHPC is doing,” he says.

He adds that one could deduce that the BHPC members who are predominantly “brainwashed by their graduation from USA, South Africa and Western Europe hold graduates from elsewhere with contempt and fail to comprehend with their standing as evidenced by my case.”

Boalotswe says that “these Western countries as well as South Africa have not expressed interest in training our own citizens in the area of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, at least to my knowledge.”

Yet, Boalotswe who graduated from a Chinese university said, the BHPC “wants to religiously hold their training standards and protocol as a yardstick to register our local citizens who have been trained elsewhere. This is mental and academic colonialism.”

Boalotswe alleges that graduates emerging from Asian institutions bear the most brunt and rebuke and are under scrutiny that cannot be explained as evidenced by his treatment at the hands of the hands of the BHPC.

Boalotswe says he fears for the lives of his colleagues who are pursuing postgraduate studies as there is a BHPC member who is hell bent on destroying careers of Batswana doctors.

“I feel sorry for my country when I see personalities supporting nationals from elsewhere to be registered as specialists and they cannot do the same to their countrymen. One wonders how we get motivated when our skills and expertise go to waste when we should be coming back to give back to our country but then foreigners are elevated at the expense of locals,” he said.

He argues that Cubans and Indians who have done three years of training in Maxillofacial Surgery just as he did are registered without any question; in fact some of them do not even meet the standard as prescribed by the Act.

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