International update

U.S.-trained DOs recognized as equal to MDs in 20 African countries

The Association of Medical Councils of Africa recently approved a resolution recognizing U.S.-trained DOs as fully licensed physicians with practice rights equivalent to MDs.

The medical regulatory boards of 20 African countries will recognize U.S.-trained DOs as equal to U.S.-trained MDs. This means DOs who seek to practice in these countries will be recognized and registered in the same manner as MDs.

The Association of Medical Councils of Africa (AMCOA) recently approved a resolution granting the AOA’s request that AMCOA recognize U.S.-trained DOs as fully licensed physicians with practice rights equivalent to MDs.

A resolution two years in the making

The resolution’s approval comes following two years of continued advocacy from AOA leadership, the AOA’s international team and other DO leaders. Last year, the AOA helped secure recognition of DOs from the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO). ILO issued a letter affirming that U.S.-trained DOs are fully licensed physicians who prescribe medication and perform surgery. The AOA used that letter as supporting evidence in its AMCOA resolution.

AOA President William S. Mayo, DO, AOA CEO Adrienne White-Faines, MPA, FACHE, and Cecilia Banga, DO, work together at an AMCOA meeting.

“With the passing of this resolution, DOs wishing to care for patients in AMCOA member countries will have a more streamlined process to secure licensure and practice rights,” says AOA CEO Adrienne White-Faines, MPA, FACHE. “The resolution also paves the way for other countries throughout Africa and the rest of the world to develop a greater understanding of the U.S. physician education system and the benefits of the osteopathic medical profession.”

White-Faines has met with AMCOA in Africa several times in the past two years. Margaret Aguwa, DO, Cecilia Banga, DO, and Millicent King Channell, DO, joined her to help explain the philosophies and education of U.S.-trained DOs. Humayun “Hank” Chaudhry, DO, CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards and former chair of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities (IAMRA), also played a key role in supporting the request.

“These DOs helped define the opportunities the resolution presented,” White-Faines says. “I am sincerely grateful for their assistance.”

The resolution’s passing is a significant win for all DOs, notes Dr. Chaudhry.

“This is a historic milestone in the advancement of the osteopathic medical profession around the globe and on the African continent in particular,” he says.

Dr. Aguwa agrees.

“This is a wonderful and necessary step forward for DOs, especially for physicians of African descent who have trained in the U.S. and would like to serve patients in their homeland countries,” she says. “This is a long-awaited beneficial milestone for DO physicians and the populations they can serve.”

Doors opened

AMCOA is a transnational organization that is setting standards for quality and safety in its 20 member countries, which include Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In addition to practice opportunities, the resolution will also help facilitate DOs’ and osteopathic medical students’ participation in faculty exchanges, global outreach projects and international research.

Achieving recognition across Africa positions the AOA to work with the global regulatory coalition IAMRA to secure a similar declaration.


  1. Thomas F. Steele, D.O., FACOFP

    My Wife, Karen M. Steele, D.O., FAAO diligently and with much consternation worked her way through red tape in South Africa for years to obtain full medical physician licensure.
    She ultimately was approved a few years ago to be the first USA trained D.O. to be fully licensed to practice medicine in South Africa.

    1. Paul

      Hi Thomas,
      Could you point me towards any resources on the current state of affairs for D.O. Practicing in South Africa? I am an MS 3 and am unsure if a residency is require or if it would affect my applications severely for IM. Please and thank you

  2. Chris Danielson DO

    I have been doing missions for MSF in Africa for the past 5 years as a surgeon. I have never met any resistance to my working. In fact, one of the requirements before I go on mission is to send a copy of my diploma to the country that I will be working in. Of course, I am working under the auspices of MSF when I go, but still the country has to approve my eligibility to work there.

  3. Merrian Brooks

    I too have been working under a US institution on the continent without any issues and look forward to having the freedom to think about getting local jobs. Thank you all so much for your commitment to breaking any and all barriers.

  4. Michael Waring DO

    I’m guessing this is only for BC/BE docs who’ve finished residency. But if Africa could be opened to young docs who’ve finished an intern year (& have a license) …it could create beneficial opportunities! The forums are rife with graduates who haven’t yet finished residency and are struggling to find meaningful work.

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