A Web-Based System at Ugandan Professional Council Encourages Accountability and Quality Control
Last month, the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (the Council) introduced a web-based system for registering all the medical officers and dentists in the country. This new system will make it easier and faster for employers, managers of health professionals, and the public to check on a health care provider’s professional standing. The web system also makes it possible to find out which clinics are registered and approved, who owns them, where these clinics are located, and what services the clinics are mandated to offer. The Council intends for the new website to:
- Make it easier for employers and the public to find records on health care workers
- Limit the problem of multiple registrations of medical/dental practitioners
- Link continuing professional development to re-licensure.
Dr. Katumba Sentongo Gubala, registrar of the Council, also pointed out the importance of the new web registration system in creating an accountability mechanism to ensure well-qualified health practitioners and high-quality health care. ”The web system will eliminate quack practitioners by publicly exposing the legal standing of the practitioners,” said Dr. Gubala. “I also think it will motivate qualified practitioners to update their standing. In the year 2010, only 1,250 practitioners renewed their practicing licenses; but by April 2011, already 1,600 had renewed their licenses. This is because the practitioners learned that their professional standing was going to be public information on the web.”
The new system helps the Council achieve several important objectives:
- Safeguarding against people who are not appropriately trained but are masquerading as doctors
- Motivating health workers to keep their licenses up-to-date because their professional standing will be public
- Enforcing the laws covered under the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act of 1996.
The Council plans to continue building on the system to increase the amount of information publicly available by adding information about health workers who have met continuing professional development requirements. The Council will also work with the medical universities to register pre-service students early on to improve registration. In the future the Council plans to publish:
- A list of registered doctors and dentists by district
- Information about training opportunities
- Announcements of upcoming events such as conferences and seminars.
The Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council is also collaborating with and encouraging Uganda’s other health professional councils— including the Allied Health Professional Council, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council, and the Pharmacy Council—to establish similar web-based systems.