As far back as in 1964, the Ministry of Health & Quality of Life accepted the principle of setting up a Medical Council at the request of the Mauritius Medical Association. An Adhoc Committee was elected by the whole profession to draft a suitable constitution for a Mauritian Medical Council.
On 8th December 1964, an amendment to the medical practitioners’ ordinance was passed by the Legislative Assembly in which it was clearly stated that it is the aim of government to replace the then existing Medical Board by a Medical Council.
A Medical Council Bill was presented to the Legislative Assembly in 1967. Twenty one years later i.e. on 23rd December 1988 , another bill was presented to the Assembly which subsequently became an Act. The medical profession had to wait for two more years, i.e., in the year 1991 before members of the Medical Council were elected by the medical profession. The gestation period for the Medical Council from “conception to delivery” took 27 years. The Medical Council became a reality and met for the first time on June 02, 1991 . During this period Mauritius experienced a substantial increase in the number of the medical practitioners qualified from many different countries. This inevitability led to non-uniformity in the pattern of the medical practice, a fact which medical practitioners themselves were first to acknowledge. Simultaneously, the expectations of an industrialising society continued to place increasing demand on the medical profession. The setting up of the Medical Council was therefore a logical outcome albeit delayed.
The Medical Council had put in tremendous amount of work since its conception. The task was not easy. Through materials obtained from established regulatory bodies of the medical profession overseas members familiarized themselves with the relevant legal and administrative jargon.
The first Medical Council prepared documents/guidelines on registration procedures, disciplinary procedures and code of medical ethics which were subsequently incorporated in the Medical Council Act. The Act was inspired by models from overseas regulatory bodies while ensuring that local specifications were not disregarded or ignored.
While all this was going on, the first Council had to investigate into a number of allegations of medical negligence, malpractice or breach of the code of practice etc.
Like Medical Councils elsewhere, the Medical Council of Mauritius has been an independent autonomous body. For this to happen, adequate funds had to be mobilized to meet the expenses for running the Council. In the initial years of its existence, Council was an entirely government funded but not a government driven institution. Government gave Council its independence and autonomy as provided for in the Medical Council Act. Even today, Council receives a grant from the government, but it also mobilises its own fund by levying fees from registered medical practitioners in the form of payment of a registration fee and an annual practising fee.
Issues such as pre-registration training, specialist certification and keeping a register of specialists were high in the agenda of the Medical Council. Recognition of specialist qualification was previously done by the National Equivalence Council. It was the expectation of the medical profession that this function should be taken over by Council similar to what happens in the other countries. Hence, procedures were initiated and implemented for the transfer of the recognition of qualifications in medicine to the Medical Council of Mauritius.
Gradually, but steadily, therefore, a structure was being established so that Council can function as a strong and independent corporate body with the vision to protect the interests of patients by ensuring maintenance of high standards of medical care provided by all registered medical practitioners.
In the initial years of its inception, the Medical Council met at the headquarters of the Ministry of Health & Quality of Life. However, on June 15, 1991 , a rented building situated at 6, Avenue des Jacinthes, Quatre Bornes served as the administrative office of the Medical Council. The beginning of the Medical Council though modest in the initial years had its visions focused on having a strong and independent Regulatory Body for the medical profession. In the year 1999, Council through enormous efforts had its own building at Floreal.
An annual practising fee levied by the Medical Council to all registered medical practitioners was established and became the practice. Many medical practitioners were sceptical about this payment, a few were even antagonistic to this measure. In fact, there were many misconceptions about the role and function of Council. Some doctors were convinced that the Medical Council was meant to defend individual doctors in much the same way as trade unions. The difference between the “medical profession” and the individual doctor was not clearly understood.
Nevertheless, the role of the Medical Council as a protector of the public against medical negligence or malpractice became slowly recognized by one and all.
All registered medical practitioners realized that their annual practicing fee is as per the requirement stipulated in the Medical Council Act. Such a payment enables Council to include the name of a medical practitioner in the annual list which is published yearly in the Government Gazette. The money collected through such payments helped Council to put up its own building. This building can be considered as a matter of pride for the medical profession.