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Dr Wouter Basson found guilty of unprofessional conduct

The HPCSA is elated at the verdict of the Professional Conduct Committee that found Dr Wouter Basson guilty of unprofessional conduct during his time as Head of Project Coast.

“As the custodian of ethics in healthcare, we are delighted at the Committee’s decision. This is a watershed moment, not only for practitioners in the South African healthcare industry, but the outcome is also of critical interest to international publics,” Dr Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba, Registrar and CEO of the HPCSA said.

This decision recognises the Council’s legal mandate as a statutory body to protect the public by investigating unethical and/or unprofessional conduct of healthcare practitioners.

Chairperson of the Professional Conduct Inquiry, Prof Jannie Hugo said Dr Basson contravened international protocols and conventions. “He confused ethics of a doctor with that of a soldier while discharging his duties.  A doctor cannot rely on military orders to escape the consequences of his duties.”

Prof Hugo quoted from the Physician’s Oath, stating that practitioners “will maintain the utmost respect for human life from time of conception, even under threat”; “I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.”

In addition, the Chairperson quoted from the World Medical Association’s (WMA) Regulations in Time of Armed Conflict, stating that “medical ethics in time of armed conflict is identical to medical ethics in time of peace.” Furthermore “the primary obligation of the physician is his professional duty; the physician’s supreme guide is his conscience.”

“The primary task of the medical profession is to preserve health and safe life.”

The Committee furthermore touched on the WMA’s declaration concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in relation to detention and imprisonment that states:

“The doctor shall not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, whatever the offence of which the victim of such procedure is suspected, accused or guilty, and whatever the victim’s belief or motives, and in all situations including armed conflict and civil strife.

“The doctor shall not provide any premises, instruments, substances or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or to diminish the ability of the victim to resist such treatment.”

The Council has been adamant and steadfast that Dr Basson had to answer for the charges against him.

Dr Mjamba-Matshoba concluded: “We are pleased that this matter has finally come to an end, finally closing the book on this dark side of our history.”

Sentencing is due on 20 and 21 February 2014.

Last Updated on 9 July 2014 by HPCSA Corporate Affairs