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New Tool Helps Nigerians Bust Fake Doctors


FILE - A child with a thermometer tucked in her armpit cries at a clinic in Nigeria, Aug. 14, 2013. Quackery is a problem in Nigeria, but a new database helps weed out unlicensed doctors.

FILE - A child with a thermometer tucked in her armpit cries at a clinic in Nigeria, Aug. 14, 2013. Quackery is a problem in Nigeria, but a new database helps weed out unlicensed doctors.

A new online database is fighting medical quackery in Nigeria by helping people easily find out if their doctor has a license.

The website, called Dodgy Doctors, is a searchable database of Nigeria's licensed medical professionals.

Temi Adeoye, a strategist with civic technology group Code for Nigeria, which helped develop the database, said he got the idea from a similar tool in Kenya.

"Quackery is a major pain in Nigeria,” Adeoye said.

To check a doctor’s legitimacy, users go to the news website Sahara Reporters, which is hosting Dodgy Doctors, and type in their doctor’s name to see if it appears in the database of the Medical and Dental Council, Nigeria's regulatory body for licensed practitioners.

"Why should I use this doctor?” Adeoye said. “Because he's a doctor? Oh no, because he's a licensed doctor, and how do I know he's a licensed doctor? This tool tells me he's a licensed doctor."

Code for Nigeria also developed tools that help people locate the nearest hospital and determine the market price of pharmaceuticals.

‘Massive’ problem

Henry Okwuokenye, head of the inspectorate for the Medical and Dental Council, called the issue of fake doctors "massive."

He said there are at least 30 open cases against alleged fake doctors nationwide. But, he said, the data used by Code for Nigeria is from 2006, and the group should have waited for more up-to-date information.

"It's a lovely idea to have people know who's a doctor at the click of the phone,” Okwuokenye said. “It's very laudable. But there needs to be an agreement reached with the Medical and Dental Association of Nigeria as to deploying this tool."

Adeoye said the data used by Dodgy Doctors is the most recent available from the association. He says he plans to seek more recent data from the association if it is available, and update the database accordingly.

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