The accreditation of medical education – the certification of the suitability of medical education programmes, and of the competence of medical schools in the delivery of medical education – ensures patient safety and competent practising doctors. Accreditation of medical education is normally carried out by national governments, or by agencies receiving their authority from national governments.
Objective 1.1 of the WHO (2016) Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 is that ‘by 2020, all countries will have established accreditation mechanisms for health training institutions’.
The Guidelines for Accreditation of Basic Medical Education were developed by an international task force in 2004, and published jointly by WHO and WFME in 2005. These guidelines form the basis of the 2013 WHO policy briefing on medical accreditation and the 2016 IAMRA statement on accreditation of medical education programmes.
WHO policy on the promotion of accreditation of basic medical education was developed and agreed in a strategic partnership with WFME. There is a related set of WHO/WFME guidelines on accreditation of basic medical education.
An extra stimulus to make sure that the standards and processes of accreditation agencies are satisfactory has come from the policy of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) of the USA on accreditation. ECFMG stated in 2010 that “…effective in 2023, physicians applying for ECFMG Certification will be required to graduate from a medical school that has been appropriately accredited. To satisfy this requirement, the physician’s medical school must be accredited through a formal process that uses criteria comparable to those established for U.S. medical schools by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) or that uses other globally accepted criteria, such as those put forth by the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME)”. It is likely that this policy will encourage many countries that do not, as yet, have accreditation systems for basic medical education to develop them.
A list of known accrediting agencies for each country is held in the Directory of Organizations that Recognise/Accredit Medical Schools (DORA). Those agencies with WFME Recognition Status is indicated in DORA. The status of all agencies, including those with Recognition Status and those which have formally started their application to the WFME Recognition Programme, is published here. To date, no agencies have applied and not been awarded Recognition Status.
Accreditation is the certification of the suitability of medical education programmes, and of the competence of medical schools in the delivery of medical education.
Recognition Status is awarded by WFME to an accrediting agency working to an internationally accepted high standard, and confers the understanding that the quality of accreditation of undergraduate medical schools is to an appropriate and rigorous standard.