May 26, 2009

Government Cracks Down On Fake Doctors In Sierra Leone

In a government clampdown on the estimated 200 fake foreign doctors operating in Sierra Leone, authorities raided a number of surgeries because of suspected unregistered doctors on Tuesday, AFP reported.

Health Minister Sheiku Tejan Koroma said they didn't know the exact number of people pretending to be doctors and practicing in the country with forged documents, but they were determined to put a stop to it.

He told AFP that since many had established throughout the country, particularly in the remote areas, they estimated about 200 or more were engaged in the illegal practice.

All foreigners claiming to be doctors or health personnel now have to be vetted by Sierra Leone's Medical and Dental Council to have their credentials verified and be registered to practice, the Minister said.

However, many foreigners never bother with registration or they falsify documents, according to health authorities.

A health official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that last week three men died after undergoing crude appendix operations"”sparking the clampdown on the illegal practice.

Many of the suspected fake doctors come from China, the Middle East and South East Asia, authorities said.

An estimated 120,000 people were killed and thousands had their limbs hacked off by rebel fighters during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war which ended in 2001.

Figures from the World Health Organization suggest the health care system is also in tatters, with less than one physician per 10,000 inhabitants.