Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Calibre of medical doctors trained abroad questioned


A mock operation by doctors from the University Teaching Hospital

Dr ‘Satisfactory’ M.D—An impostor in the system

The Zambian education system like any other system in the world has limits. Usually, the results obtained in high school by a student in any country go a long way in reflecting the comprehension abilities of those that the results belong to. Although a good number of people have gone on to do the impossible even after not doing so well at high school level, high school results still form a cardinal basis through which students are picked to choose the careers they will be able to manage and venture into in future. Imagine having a child you know is not good in Math at all, then because you as a parent believe they can do it you force them to do a course that is keen on Math. By doing this, in so much as you want the best for your child, when you choose to ignore however what their report cards constantly tell you, you might actually be doing the child a disservice.

In the recent number of years, Zambia has seen a great increase in the number of Medical doctors been trained both in Zambia and abroad. This spike in the so much needed health personnel is very good for the country on one hand and something that many have been looking for for a very long time so that the large doctor to patient ratio in the country is reduced. The mushrooming number of Medical Universities or Universities offering Medicine in Zambia coupled with the opening up of Chinese universities and/Russian, Ukraine universities to accepting hundreds of Zambians to study medicine in their countries has created an exponential increase in the number of doctors the country will have in the near future–A positive projection for the health sector of the country; but is it?

Those graduating with MBBS (MBBS: Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery) degrees are doing so in hundreds today due to the many Zambian universities now operating and many also from Chin, Russia etc. Chinese Universities for example accept hundreds of Zambian students in every intake. Currently, it is not strange at all to find over one hundred Zambian students pursing medicine at a single university in China today. Statistics reveal that there are over one to three thousand Zambians pursuing their studies in China currently and most likely over 60 percent of them are studying medicine, the statistics are about the same even higher for Russia.

For a long time, doing medicine in Zambia has been seen as a preserve for the most elite. It is only the most intelligent of minds that go through the University of Zambia and make their way to the prestigious University of Zambia’s Ridge-way campus– the incubator of the most brilliant of minds that are conferred with the title of ‘Doctor’ at the end of a rigorous seven year training period.

In Zambia, a person with an average of 11 points and above at grade 12 level stands very little chance of entering into medical school especially at the competitive University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University. Anything above the 10 points mark reduces the chances of one doing medicine by great margins. It is no wonder that if one were to go to the University of Zambia Ridge-Way campus or the Copperbelt University today to check on the results of those doing medicine, they would find that almost everyone had done extremely well in high school and their comprehension abilities were very high. As a result of this long tradition, the Zambian medical personnel has for a long time been a respected lot.

Today, private universities, China etc however have changed the game— The mushrooming number of doctors despite it being good on one hand has also to a great degree resulted in the quality and tradition that has been followed in Zambia for a long time of selecting the cream of the cream to do medicine being compromised highly. It is no-longer odd to find a person who had very bad grade 12 results being ‘ordained’ as a doctor from some university somewhere. The new crop of doctors has a number of people with compromised grade 12 results which for a long time has formed a basis in the country for understanding the basic reasoning and comprehension abilities of students. The writer has come across student’s papers whose results have a credit as the highest mark while the majority of their grades are just ‘satisfactorys’ doing medicine today.



Percentage Grading Reflected
75 Distinction 1
70-74 Distinction 2
65 to 69 Merit 3
60-64 Merit 4
55- 58 Credit 5
50-54 Credit 6
45- 49 Satisfactory 7
40- 44 Satisfactory 8
0-39 Unsatisfactory 9

The highest number and best points a person can get is 6 points, that is an equivalent to six first distinctions in all 6 subjects. The average number of subject combination used in entering universities is a six subjects combination. Those that get these would have worked very hard and proved to be able to cope and do very well in almost every one of the six subjects they took.

At the university of Zambia in particular, a person who obtains points that are above 10 points will find it very hard to first of all even make it into the stream of those that would go on to stand a chance of entering medical school as the system first requires people to do a year of A- levels from which the very best are selected.

Today, with it not being odd to find a doctor who definitively stood no chance of entering the University of Zambia with a subject combination that would be largely made up of anything above fives etc being admitted and presenting medical school qualifications, it must raise a lot of questions if indeed grade 12 results are a true reflection of one’s comprehension abilities and whether or not a doctor with bad grade twelve results should really be questioned on how they made it into medical school despite the high school results showing an ‘orange’ light. The bulk of those students with papers coming from overseas now sometimes present with very bad high school results on one hand then excellent university results on the other. In terms of them being able to execute their job as medical personnel however, for some or a good number of them, the quality is very questionable and least to say years behind that of the crop trained locally.

There is certainly goodness in the increase in number of doctors but the sad part is that a good number of these students have high school qualifications that reflect low comprehension skills at grade 12 level and making it worse, prove to most times still have challenges in basic comprehension at senior level even when they are health personnel. Such trends in people joining a noble profession such as medicine with results at high school level that are extremely bad, then presenting medical papers that are unrealistically good which is a good thing for them in itself but then coupled with very low abilities to execute the duties of a doctor or even understand very fast with the excellence and nobility that the profession demands raise ‘eye brows’.

It is therefore important for the authorities to create systems that will really assess students not just based on the qualifications they present with but also their ability to execute their job because it is evident that some systems that governed quality have a ‘fault’. If it be that a six month to one year compulsory preparatory period of indeed a much more comprehensive exam is established for ‘quality control’ of our future doctors is established, we will as a nation then go a step further in raising a generation of doctors proud of their profession and able to pass on this pride and nobility to the next generation.



There are impostors in the system. A possible break in the nobility and excellence medicine demands.


By Loyal Lusaka Times follower.


    • When people come to zambia with medical degrees they must go through a 2 year residency in Zambia to gauge their preparedness before allowing to practice. Too many online degrees flying around.

    • I just did a fact check and found that the the percentage of doctors trained in either China or Russia who pass the licensing exams to prestigious US, UK, Canadian medical institutions is so much higher than graduates from UNZA. On average out of 30 Zambians who sit the USA exams only one pass.

    • This article should not generalise. My second born son graduated last year with a first class Bachelor of Medicine (Medicinae Baccalareus) from University of Copenhagen in Denmark. UC is a top European University. He is doing his 6 month internship at Odense for those of you familiar with the place. Now to be a black practising Med Doc in a Nordic country is a very difficult task and you have to be good or else they won’t give you even a first chance. So don’t generalise – many foreign trained Med Docs are excellent and even better than Zambian trained Docs who survived on Crooks Law at UNZA and Ridgeway Campus!

    • The author should not just talk about high numbers in Russia or China, he should give clear cut numbers and name some universities. Some of the best doctors we have in Zambia are from the eastern block, and Russian trained to be in particular. So don’t have this inferiority complex.

    • According to this article, we possess the cream dela cream of Doctors… and yet most who can afford will travel abroad for treatment. That would make one question the quality of our cream.

  1. Well it’s a liberated and free market economy. In advanced countries some times talent plays a bigger part than high school points.

  2. According to South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) Zambian Grade 12 is equal to South African Grade 11. Wonder small Zambian students need ‘A’ levels to be accepted in a descent University in SA

    • If you are right, then it is quite a pity because the South African education system is somewhat flawed as it is a dilemma of sorts. In South Africa, the things that work well, work very well and the things that don’t work well are very bad. There is no middle ground. What am I trying to say?! As a remnant of apartheid, most of the social services including education and health have two standards. Those who can afford to pay private education or afford the fees of the public sector education but located in areas previously dominated by whites (the likes of WITS, KZN and Pretoria universities) get to have a very high standard of education. Same goes for private hospitals vs public ones. The majority of South African will have gone through public sector education which leaves much to be…

  3. He sounds malicious, jealousy, delusional and paranoid. He should train abroad, if he felt left out on the jet.

    Full Stop!

  4. Just introduce board licensing exams and you will level the playing field . I think Mujajati and HPCZ are planning this.

  5. I wonder where Zambians get the impression that they have better education system than other countries abroad like Russia and Ukraine where they have universities that have been in existence for over a 100 years and medical discoveries including Nobel Prizes won. Where you have UNESCO recognised medical universities and where research including publications in medical journals in non comparable to Zambia. If someone has Cold-War era propaganda, he is highly backwards. How many medical personnel trained in former Eastern Block countries are working in Europe and USA? Talking of the so called good grade 12 results, not any more. Our exam papers are full of repeated questions because people are not innovative enough to put up good new questions that a student has never seen before. Leakages…

  6. “It must raise a lot of questions if indeed grade 12 results are a true reflection of one’s comprehension abilities and whether or not a doctor with bad grade twelve results should really be questioned on how they made it into medical school despite the high school results showing an ‘orange’ light.”
    The above statement raises questions on why this article? Are you frustrated with someone from your work place who has made it as a medical doctor even after getting poor results at grade 12? Did you which to become a doctor but was not accepted yet you had excellent results? Did you know that environment as well has influence on the results obtained from either primary, secondary or tertiary education? Getting poor grade 12 results does not certainly reflect someone’s true abilities but…

    • Not so, I recently recall one graduate from UNZA boldly stating how he thanked Google for helping him out in the exam room. This is why professional certifications are now popular, because employers don’t have full confidence in the quality of graduates. The will to obtain an educational is personal, not institutional.

  7. The article no doubt is written by a Ridgeway trained doctor.For along time they have held the view that being a doctor is for the elite few.This again shows how the medical proffession is divided in Zambia,how unfortunate.When a patient goes for consultation,he does not descriminate. All the patient wants is help and if the help comes from a Chinese or Canadian trained doctor ,he cares less.These same doctors have a tendency of looking down on nurses as if nurses are mops.When challenged they will always make a remark that they did not see them in the lecture hall and if they want to be a medical doctor ,Ridgeway is still open!How rude.To overcome this barrier,some universities around the world ,certain lectures are open for both doctors and nurses.This is being done to brdge this…

  8. Of all the things to write.. Someone summarize that stuff up there in a sentence please..akamba chani uyu? namvela ulessi just looking at the heading.

  9. The guy is spot on. It’s also happening in the law industry. Cavendish trains lawyers who struggle at ZIALE while UNZA trained lawyers form the bulk of the ZIALE graduates. With the doctors, as stated above, only the brilliant make it to Ridgeway, which I feel forms the basis of a very good doctors. It’s the same with the prestigious schools in USA or Europe. Not every jim and jack go there, only the brilliant minds. Good article.

  10. The author is a good example of the failures in our higher education system. To suggest that one needs 6 points to enter medical school is based on a complete lack of understanding of professional education and training.

  11. It is true my brother. Some people do not deserve to be called Doctors. You will discover that some do not even know how to write or interpret the prescription. I want to encourage the Medical authorities to check the institution where people are getting these qualifications. Some institutions do not have laboratories. Please check these so called private institutions. How can a person be called a lecturer if he / she graduated with a pass. We need lecturers with a distinction or merit. Please abantu balapwa ukufwa kuli ba mukukulu.

  12. The Author is a useless chap from dirty universities (unza or cbu)!!!
    Surely how many Zambian grade 12s get 6 points through leakage?thousands!!
    Moreover,how can you compare unza or cbu to a university in China or Russia?unza’s school of medicine is in kabwata(uth),can such a bush school compared to a university in Moscow?kelekekekeke…..some of these dull Zambians must grow up!!bembas say “ushenda atasha nyina ukunaya ubwali”.whites are whites and their facilities or education are far much better than ours!!ALL YOU DO AT ZAMBIAN UNIVERSITIES IS LEARNING THEORY AND READING BOOKS WRITTEN BY THE SAME RUSSIANS OR WHITES,SO WHAT IS THIS FO0L TELLING US?

  13. Zambian doctors ‘re selfish & greed. They want to make studying medicine extremely difficult . Post graduate students face doing MMed undergo unnecessary and useless exams just to frustrate them. Do you realize that Chinese expatriates who are trained for four years perform far better than the author of the above article. This is nothing but PHD syndrome

  14. The author is spot ON, just need a few contributions to the article like the ministry of education in zambia needs to set standards for those going abroad not only in medicine but other fields as well, china gets high school graudaes from africa with 28 points and such can be doctors oH MY FOOT?? WE NEED PEOPLE TO GO OVERSEAS ATLEAST AT POSTGRADUATE LEVEL, DO UR UNDERGRADUATE FROM ZED, MARABISH DOCTORS FROM CHINA RUSSIA HIDING UKRAINE BRAZIL COLUMBIA CANT EVEN ADMINISTER A PRESCRIPTION HIDING IN LANGUAGE BARRIER , SAYING A KNOW A CATHETAL IN SPANISH DONT KNOW IT ENGLISH

  15. Your article is a ssh!hole! Russia and former soviet countries have strong university education systems existing since the time most of European universities were being founded around 1300.
    Just talk about the mushrooming vending universities producing medical doctors purely based on book-lifting theory, and no lab-scale medical facilities.
    “Umwana ashenda atasha nyina ukunaya ubwali”.

  16. Your article sounds nonsensical as you are attacking Zambians acquiring powerful knowledge from abroad. Before you write this shiihole, you should have formulated on the agenda of dealing with fake Congolese doctors robbing our economy. KKapoli, waumfwa?

  17. For precision practitioners, repeated errors can prove lack of competence. For a surgeon, the patients would die repeatedly during or after operation. For engineer, the systems would crash repeatedly. For accountant, miscalculations, omissions and other errors would proof of incompetent. In this context, a solution would be exclusion from practicing the profession or restrictions in range of professional practice. In the end, imprisonment would be a viable possibility for criminal conduct. In certain cases, the issue professional politics and rivalry could be proven. Petty jealousies are universal and they require level fairness and firmness.

  18. This is what happens when you have no idea of what happens on the other side.in case you didn’t know dear writer ,when foreign trained students apply for a job at MOH they are required to hand in their g12 certificates because if the person has a 4 in any subject they are required to rewrite that subject otherwise they are not given employment.so please before you write a long useless article get your facts straight!

  19. The article is not written in good taste. What position is UNZA or Ridgeway campus on the World University ranking.

    • Good question, all Ridgeway Campus is not recognised anywhere on world university rankings. All what it takes is for a responsible govnt to invest more in the field of medicine so as to train more to a level of world class graduates. Reading such articles leaves wondering if at all the mindset of some zambians will ever change!!. Zambian govnt has chosen to allocate more financial resources to the unproductive military sector at the expense of other key sectors of the economy such as education. One does not need 6 points to make it into the faculty of medicine!!! The western world have made it user friendly for all to access quality education and created fertile grounds for all to continue developing professionally, hence no cholera in their midst..Stick to your 6 points and the country…

  20. UNZA sucks and lets no fool ourselves that the training at UNZA is superior. Just look at African University rankings (UNZA is at no 51).
    It is clear that the author has a grudge against doctors who have been trained abroad. And the G12 argument he puts forward is super childish!

  21. Having a great number of medical doctors is not a problem, the problem lies in the short sightness of Zambians you know grade 12 results don’t really determine your destiny in life. There are people who are 10 times capable of being far much better doctors than those studying at ridge way and CBU but they lack sponsorship besides intelligence doesn’t mean you can do everything because if you have a passion for it you’ll not need to get straight A’s. May I challenge the writer of this article to do the statistics of those who are intelligent and have degrees because they studied from UNZA or CBU if all of them are working? So instead of despising us foreign trained students why can’t the government ensure that they help us while we are here through the embassy and other unions to have…

  22. Ba kushokelela Dr. Satisfactory . Next time think twice before you waste your precious time writing useless articles

  23. This article was written in bad taste and all in all, the health system we have requires major surgery (including brain surgery to the author of this article). We need more specialised equipment to enable doctors make proper diagnosis and treatment. Doctors need specialised training so that we can locally treat complicated cases. We also need to change the attitude of our health workers so that they are more compassionate towards patient. Finally, this Phd syndrome displayed above by the author needs to come to an end. The idea of trying to put down your friends because of petty jealous and envy should be confined to the UNIP days. Plus check world ranking of universities before you write. We are so much better as a people and we can achieve more if we work together.

  24. What’s is this guy talking about? let the country have thousands of doctors so that we can fill our hospitals with them. And stop being serious if u can do medicine other people can do it too. Remember also that UNZA & CBU have limited places hence allowing those with 10 points and below but I don’t think anyone with 15 points and below and has good grades in sciences and mathematics can fail to do medicine.

  25. The writers opinion is onerous. At one time my aunt who was CLEANER manned a Government Clinic for over 6 years in a RURAL AREA performing all the functions of a doctor and nurse. diagnosing and administering medicine. The few UNZA trained docs preferred Lusaka and Botswana at that time. I would rather prefer a
    satisfactory 6 years Chinese trained doctor , probably we could have saved 75% of lives.

  26. Positive debate iyi and comments. I think Dr Satisfactory anvela, but above all naeve akamba vamene enzofuna. Buti democracy che, kulinchito. Lusaka times nizee che

  27. at UNZA u are trained to fail not passing…u cant have a lecturer telling u that u will never clear my class.is that fair sure?

  28. Aww poor doctor! Are you mad because someone else earned a degree via a different route and didn’t match your struggle through UNZA? Well, deal with it! Your article is woefully nostalgic, wreaks of envy and is at best economical on quantitative and qualitative arguments. The world has moved on since those shabby grade 12 exams were considered to be the yardstick for intelligence. We are in an age of constant acceleration and change and it would appear to me that your lack of exposure to anything other than that which you know severely limits your opinions and outlook. Diversity is key for success although I do agree that a regulatory framework should be in place to ensure the best from wherever proceed to practice medicine.

  29. Zambian trained doctors are trained in dilapidated facilities where there are stone age equipment and no medication.You want to compare with doctors trained in China, Russia or Cuba?

  30. At some point the writer maybe right. It’s not all the colleges/ Universities which offer first class medical lessons to African learners. It is being reported in Russia African students are not allowed to do practicals to the Russian nationals. So basically, they are offered theories only. I think the author was supposed to enlighten such issues. Those are the issues actually reported by the students themselves studying in those countries because we supervise them when they come for practicals back home.

  31. The author is utterly childish! He is oblivious of the fact that it is some of us Unza graduates opting to send our children abroad rather than to the institution we went to because we have first hand experience on the deterioration of the Zambian university. As a learned parent I will do basic research on good universities and ensure that it is a recognized institution by GRZ through the bursaries committee. Over and above this I need to be true to myself and ensure my child is capable. Without a shadow of doubt an average Chinese or Russian university will edge our two universities in terms of population of academic staff – professors, PhDs, Maters and above all publications! I am an avid reader and would want to read publications done by Dr Satisfactory.

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