Medicine is a dynamic field. It is important therefore that medical practitioners are regularly updated with knowledge and skills in order to fulfil their ethical responsibility of ensuring public safety and at the same time maintaining public confidence in the performance of members of the profession. In line with similar bodies elsewhere, the Medical Council of Malawi (MCM), as a regulatory body for medical practice in the country, has a duty to promote Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for members of the profession in order to maintain the requisite knowledge, skills and competencies. Every medical and dental practitioner registered in Malawi in terms of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act, irrespective of the category of registration, must comply with the requirements relating to CPD. While individuals eventually take the responsibility to improve their performance, the Medical Council will facilitate the process of making continuing educational activities available to all health professionals who are registered with it. In developing this document, the Medical Council reviewed CPD practice in a number of countries in the region.
To promote individual commitment to lifelong learning among health professionals in Malawi in order to develop and maintain professional competencies and win the confidence of the public in the profession. In order to achieve this, the Medical Council of Malawi, with support from other stakeholders will:
For CPD to be implemented successfully nationwide, it is essential that the accreditable activities are fairly accessible to all practitioners registered with the Medical Council and that the process is simple. The following are some of the proposed structures for CPD implementation.
The CPD committee will be set to manage CPD points achieved by practitioners. The committee will consist of:
Chairman of Council as ex- officio member (Vice Chairperson to attend if chairperson not available)
One representative each from the Medical and the Dental Associations of Malawi.
Private Medical and Dental Practitioners Association
Private Paramedical Practitioners Associations.
One representative from major teaching institution: College of Medicine; Malawi College of Health Sciences; Malamulo College of Health Sciences and Mzuzu University
Ministry of Health (Clinical services Section)
Any other member/ person as the committee may decide from time to time.
Due to the narrow professional base from which to choose, Medical Council of Malawi will be the main Accreditor of CPD Providers. All Providers will be registered with Medical Council and provided with reference/ registration number. Guidelines for Providers are to be set by the CPD committee and be presented to Council for ratification to ensure that standards set are fair, equitable and reasonable. Providers to record points and send data to the clinician and Medical Council (Quarterly). Medical Council inspection visits to include assessment of CPD activities at all health institutions registered by Council.
Professional Associations and institutions with potential for Provider status subject to requirements in sections 3.2 and 3.3 are:
3.1.1 All registered Professional Associations
3.1.2 College of Medicine
3.1.3 Malawi College of Health Sciences
3.1.4 Malamulo College of Health Sciences
3.1.5 Government hospitals / Min of Health
3.1.6 CHAM hospitals
3.1.7 Private hospitals
3.1.8 NGOs providing clinical care eg MSF, Banja la Mtsogolo
3.1.9 Research units affiliated to teaching institutions eg Wellcome Trust, Johns Hopkins, and UNC.
3.1.10 Mzuzu University
3.1.11 Any other member/ person / organizations as the committee may decide from time to time.
All health institutions involved in clinical practice and patient care will be required to have a CPD programme with an established committee responsible for CPD activities. This committee will be responsible for organising activities; allocation of points; advertising of activities; providing CPD on behalf of Council; recording and sending data to Council. Private providers of clinical services will be required to ensure regular CPD activities for their clinical employees. However, small private clinics and health Centres will be required to affiliate themselves to an approved CPD provider such as a govt or CHAM hospital.
A professional body that does not meet the above requirements will not be given Provider status. Within Council, a database of Providers will be created and the names of the CPD committee members and CPD contact persons will be kept updated. Institutions that do not have Provider status and other organizations whose purpose is primarily commercial will seek CPD points through an approved Provider. Such a provider may not award points without prior arrangement with an Accredited Provider.
The status of a Provider will be reviewed regularly by the CPD committee, based on its record of providing opportunities for CPD to its members.
Every individual has the right to have the details regarding his/her diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and other aspects of his/her care kept confidential. There may be situations when there may be need to disclose the patient’s information, for instance
Fifty percent of the points (15) should be accumulated through attendance at CPD activities directly organised by the Accreditor body whose speciality or practice most closely fits that of the practitioner.
There will be no carry over of points from one 12-month period to the next and a deficit cannot be made in the following period.
The point system will be similar to that operating in other countries, in order to allow reciprocity between them and Malawi. In most countries one point equals one hour and practitioners are expected to spend at least one hour per week on CPD activities. The scheme of points in this document has been simplified in order to apply across the board. All practitioners and Accreditor bodies will have to use this scheme.
The major criterion for CPD points will be whether there is peer interaction in the activity or whether there is a contribution to the education of other medical or dental practitioners. Activities, which fall under the job description of a practitioner, such as lecturing to under- and postgraduate students, will not attract CPD points, neither will activities for which remuneration is normally given. Practitioners who are honorary lecturers have always been involved in the education of medical/dental students, nurses, midwives, radiographers and others, out of a sense of professional responsibility. Medical Council commends these professionals and urges them to continue in the same spirit as before, and does not wish to start awarding CPD points for such activities.
CPD activities will be categorised as clinical or non-clinical. Clinical activities impinge directly on clinical practice. Non clinical activities include administration and management courses.