Faking it in Mauritania's health system

Faking it in Mauritania's health system
Feature: A growth in fake medical credentials is forcing locals to seek treatment abroad, and contributing to a rise in medical errors, says Khadija al-Tayyib.
2 min read
28 April, 2015
Mauritanians are going abroad for medical treatment [Getty]

In recent years, many Mauritanians have been forced to seek treatment abroad due to corruption in the country's medical sector that has compromised standards.

Medical degrees, for example, can be bought on the street. 

"Charlatans" have infiltrated the medical profession destroying principles and ethics, and exploiting patients for financial gain. These "charlatans" are running surgeries using practising doctors' licenses, according to the Mauritanian National Association for Medical Practitioners.

The association said that once discovered doctors are asked to immediately retrieve their licences from these imposters.

"The authorities are also informed and told to prosecute the offenders," it said in a statement, adding that authorities had cooperated and closed down the relevant practices.

     Fake medical credentials meant doctors and pharmacists in the country have lost credibility.

The association also investigated fake medical degrees being sold on the street and in some health centres. These degrees have doctors' stamps and sometimes their signatures. The MNAMP has warned its members about the dangers of issuing fake medical degrees.

Mauritanian neurologist Mohamedou Ould Abdallah told al-Araby al-Jadeed that fake medical credentials meant doctors and pharmacists in the country have lost credibility. Most Mauritanians prefer to be treated abroad, mainly in Morocco and Senegal, he argued.

Ould Abdallah said the health sector's problems stemmed from neglect and a lack of monitoring. This encouraged charlatans and students who had not finished their studies to fake medical degrees, or practise secretly.

The neurologist called for stricter penalties to be handed out to those involved in fraudulent practice, and medical institutions forced to comply with basic standards.

Cheikh Ould Talebna, a lawyer, told al-Araby that the use of fake medical degrees was widely known. He said many came from Chinese and African universities and colleges.

"Some doctors claim to be specialised in medical branches they have only attended training sessions in. They advertise their fake specialisation on their prescriptions and their surgery billboards," he added.

The lawyer said that the legal system knew about the forgeries, and doctors and pharmacists had been asked to report any incidences. However, the number of medical mistakes was on the rise.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.