In a significant announcement made by the Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, it was confirmed that 124 individuals impersonating medical professionals, or “fake doctors”, have been apprehended as a result of a comprehensive operation led by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). This report was initially shared with the public by IOL, an established news platform.
During his disclosure, Minister Phaahla shed light on how these imposters successfully infiltrated the healthcare system. He pointed out that these pseudo-practitioners often evade the required regulatory oversight by accepting direct cash payments or by subtly integrating themselves within the private practices run by legitimate, registered medical professionals.
Phaahla emphasized the unlawful nature of these actions, stating that it is categorically illegal to offer medical services without the necessary certification or permission from the HPCSA. This regulatory body, tasked with maintaining the integrity and professionalism of the health sector, has expressed increasing alarm over the past months about these fraudsters operating in both urban and rural areas across the country.
Under Section 17 of the Health Professions Act, practicing medicine without the mandatory HPCSA registration is not merely a regulatory violation, but is treated as a criminal offense. This provides legal backing to the rigorous efforts aimed at eradicating this burgeoning menace.
In an interview with eNCA, Dr. Mvuyisi Mzukwa, a respected figure in the medical community, lamented that the issue of fake doctors with falsified credentials is a problem not exclusive to South Africa, but is an unfortunate global reality.
Dr. Mzukwa elaborated, “These people, possessing either no or incomplete medical education, often operate within organized networks or syndicates. Some of them had previously been registered with the HPCSA but have since been deregistered due to instances of malpractice or other undisclosed reasons.”
These comments underscore the seriousness of this issue. It is a concern that not only jeopardizes the integrity of the healthcare system, but also directly threatens the health and safety of unsuspecting patients. The continued efforts by the HPCSA, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, demonstrate a commitment to uphold the highest standards of medical practice in South Africa, ensuring the well-being of its citizens.