MASERU — A local doctor is suing the Lesotho Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Council for refusing to renew his practice certificate and closing down his surgery.
Dr Teboho Bulane filed an application in the High Court last Friday asking the court to interdict and restrain the council from interfering with his practice.
Bulane’s surgery stopped operating in March last year after the council declined to renew his certificate.
The council said it could not renew Bulane’s licence because there was no specific category under which his qualification from the University of Western Cape could be classified.
Bulane practises Unani Tibb, a form of traditional medicine widely practised in India and the Indian subcontinent.
The medical practice is based on the teachings of ancient Greek physician Hippocrates.
In India, there are hundreds of Unani medical colleges where graduates are awarded the Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (Bums) after a five-year study.
Bulane graduated from the University of Western Cape in 2006 with a degree in complementary health services.
In 2008, he was awarded the Unani Tibb’s Bachelor of Complementary Medicine.
The University of Western Cape introduced the Unani Tibb medicine courses in 2003.
Bulane says in his affidavit that he underwent internship programmes at Trifontein Hospital, KTC Hospital and Tibb Medical Centre in Cape Town.
He was admitted as a medical doctor in Lesotho in 2008.
He says the council admitted him as a doctor after he submitted letters of good standing, evidence of completion of internship and copies of his degree certificates.
He says he also provided the council with proof of his Lesotho citizenship and payment of registration.
He says the council registered him as a doctor “with no conditions attached”.
He says he was also issued with a retention certificate which is used to regulate medical, dental and other practitioners’ annual subscription fees to the council.
“I then began my medical practice as a medical officer (doctor) under the style Integrative Medicare,” says Bulane in his affidavit.
“I was registered with the Board of Health Care Funders for All Health Professionals in the Sadc (region) for purpose of access to medical aid,” he says.
“I was given a practice identification number.”
Bulane’s retention certificate expired on March 31 last year.
He says before the certificate expired he approached the council’s registrar to renew his licence.
But instead of renewing the licence the registrar told him that she wanted to consult the council first.
Towards the end of March last year, the registrar allegedly told him that his licence was not going to be renewed because there was no specific category under which his qualification could be classified. His certificate had previously been classified under the ‘other health professionals’.
Doctors in Lesotho are classified according to the kind of medical discipline they studied.
Bulane says he was told to “go and practice in South Africa or await the Lesotho legislative (sic) to create the specific category under which my qualification will fall, or I should establish my own council”.
“First respondent (council’s registrar) informed my legal adviser that my qualification was not registrable (sic) with the second respondent (council), which registers a different set of discipline, that my previous registration was incorrect, and that my qualification with all medical councils is registered under Allied Health Professionals Council, the law which is yet to be enacted in Lesotho.”
He says the qualification that he obtained from the University of Western Cape was credible.
“The university from which I qualified is recognised by the law of this Kingdom as qualifying university,” he argues.
“The degrees that I obtained from the qualifying university are recognised by the law of this Kingdom.
“I supplied the necessary documentation prescribed by the law of this Kingdom for my application for registration as medical officer (doctor),” Bulane says.
He says the decision not to renew his licence was spurred by jealousy.
“I became the first medical officer to open a free 24 hours comprehensive call centre.
“In my practice as a medical officer, I was the only medical officer providing 24-hour medical ambulance emergency services.
“I established and founded medical emergency training institute known as Lesotho Medical College, which became controversial with the Ministers of Health and of Education, and it later closed down.”
He says he is eager to continue with his medical profession.
The High Court is still to set a date to hear the case.