Medical services in Tanganyika were introduced by the Germans in 1890. During that period medical services were not regulated, practitioners were few and most of them were coming from abroad. As time went on there was a need for establishment of health professionals training institutions in Tanganyika. This move brought about the existence of national health professionals in the country that needed to be regulated.
Formal health related profession regulation started officially, in 1920 by the British Colonial Government by creating a Medical and Dental Practitioner’s register under the Ministry responsible for health matters. At that time the colonial Government established a Medical Board vide the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Ordinance, Cap 92. Members of this Board were appointed by the Governor. The Director of Medical Services was the Chairman and the Registrar. Registration was the only function of this Board.
Major reforms undertaken in 1959 vide the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Ordinance, Cap.409. This Ordinance came into effect on 1st December 1959. The Ordinance stipulated functions of the Council which never existed in the preceding Ordinance. The Council was accorded functional structure similar to those of the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom and the Medical Council of India. According to the legislation, the Chief Medical Officer was made the Chairman of the Council by virtue of his office. Members were appointed by the Minister for Health, except the representative of the Attorney General. The Registrar was appointed by the Chairman.
The mandate of the Council was to provide for the registration of medical practitioners and dentists, and matters connected therewith. In general, the Council was made the overseer of medical practice in Tanzania.
Medical Practitioners and Dentists Ordinance, Cap. 409 was amended in 1968 to incorporate Dental Practitioners and other matters relating to registrable qualifications and practice in general.
The Ordinance, Cap.409 was revised again in 2002 to be known as Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act.Cap.152. Subsequent to this revision, the Act was amended in 2005 to provide for the powers of the Council to promulgate the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct which had to be read together with provisions relating to discipline, and reciprocal recognition of practitioners registered by the Medical Council of Zanzibar.
The Medical Council of Tanganyika is therefore a Statutory body established under Section 3 of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act, Cap. 152 (2002 RE) of the Laws of Tanzania. The Council is vested with legal powers to oversee medical and dental practice in Tanzania. In particular, the Council has been empowered to ensure safe and effective practice for medical doctors and dentists. Generally, the Council has the duty to guide members of the profession and protect the public against undesirable practice.
Nonetheless, Medical and Dental Practitioners Act (Cap.152) has recently been reviewed, and a Draft Bill to replace the current Act is in place. The new Act will integrate all parts of the amendments into a single document and incorporate new proposals aimed at widening scope of mandate to include powers to accredit and inspect training institutions and service delivery facilities, and powers to regulate Clinical Officers and Assistant Clinical Officers, Physiotherapists and Clinical Psychologists.