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MPS ethics essay prizewinners

A group of authors has won this year’s MPS Ethics Alive essay competition at the University of the Witwatersrand. Amma Antwi, Tafadzwa Chigumba, Abnel Mutambasere and Ngunja Seyuba took first prize for their essay Healthcare Professionals and Social Conscience.

They were presented with the R5,000 prize by Ian Middleton, MPS Membership and Marketing Agent. The winning essay will be published in the South African Journal of Bioethics and Law later this year. The other prizewinners were: Ashleigh Taylor (2nd place), Thabang Raymond Mokoena (3rd place), and Che Moshesh (4th place).

Chad Beyer won the 2012 MPS ethics essay competition at Stellenbosch University, with his contribution Why do healthy students in the medical sciences use Methylphenidate?: An ethical discussion as to whether this poses harms, or benefits, to people and society. Chad was presented with his R5,000 prize at the MPS Ethics for All event in Cape Town, November 2012.

Understanding privacy of personal information (POPI)

The universal right to privacy of personal information will soon be made law in South Africa, bringing the country in line with existing data protection laws around the world.

The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Bill has implications for all medical practitioners. POPI does not replace the HPCSA’s existing guidance on safeguarding confidential patient data – the HPCSA’s Confidentiality: Protecting and Providing Information contains all the key information you need to know about ensuring confidentiality.

POPI does, however, affect all private and public organisations that process information such as names, addresses, email addresses, health information and employment history, and must be complied with if you are outsourcing data to third parties.

Failure to observe and comply with the provisions of POPI can lead to a variety of implications for healthcare practitioners – some of which are potentially very serious. These are:

  • A complaint lodged with the Information Regulator
  • Receiving a civil claim for payment of any damages
  • Criminal prosecution – if convicted there could be a fine up to R10 million or a prison sentence up to ten years, or even both.

POPI places an extra responsibility on practitioners to monitor and self-report their own flow of personal information.

MPS is on hand to provide advice and guidance with these new obligations, particularly if you are preparing to report a possible breach of personal information to the Information Regulator and a patient. If you are unsure of your new obligations, please contact us.

To find out more, read the article ‘Understanding POPI’ in the May 2013 edition of MPS Casebook.

HPCSA amendment to Ethical Rules of Conduct

The amendment relates to the definition of “canvassing” and “touting”
The Health Professions Council has issued an amendment to the Ethical Rules of Conduct for practitioners registered under the Health Professions Act 1974. The amendment relates to the definition of “canvassing” and “touting” and the information that should be included in a medical practitioner’s letterheads, account forms and electronic stationery.

Traditional Health Practitioners Council established

A new Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council aims to help the Health Ministry integrate traditional health medicine into the National Health System over the next three years.

Many primary healthcare facilities and hospitals work in collaboration with traditional health practitioners, with the main focus being on training traditional healers in health promotion, public education, and to recognise symptoms for referral to health facilities.

SAMA Annual Conference

SAMA will be hosting its annual conference and exhibition at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre near Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport from 15-17 August. The theme for 2013 is “Changing future of healthcare” and the programme will focus on:

  • Clinical updates for practical guidelines
  • NHI (Roles of public and private sectors, funding and funders)
  • Regulation and regulatory bodies.

For more information visit

ICD-10 – Medical records and diagnostic coding

The National Department of Health (NDoH) has published some FAQs in relation to ICD-10 codes.

ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems) is a diagnostic coding system developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and licensed for use in South Africa through the NDoH. All healthcare providers who consult with a patient must provide an ICD-10 diagnostic code on a claim.

All healthcare providers who consult with a patient must provide an ICD-10 diagnostic code on a claim

Codes are used for disease epidemiology, burden of disease profiling, resource allocation and to assist Medical Aid Schemes in the identification and reimbursement of Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB), amongst others.

Doctors who fail to provide ICD-10 codes could be charged with unethical conduct at the HPCSA, so it is important to familiarise yourself with these.

For more information visit:

Write for MPS in South Africa!

We are always looking for contributors for features and articles in MPS publications. After all, as a members’ organisation, we want to see your opinions and concerns reflected in your publication.

With a readership of more than 3,000 junior doctors in South Africa, make your voice heard! If there is anything you’d like to share, be it a debate, a question, or just an account of what it is like to be a junior doctor, please email Sarah Whitehouse, Junior Doctor Editor, at

Any published contributions may be eligible for up to R500 payment in vouchers, depending on length and quality, but just getting published will stand you in good stead.