Context and objectives: Undergraduate medical training program accreditation is practiced in many countries, but information from developing countries is sparse. We compared medical training program accreditation systems in nine developing countries, and compared these with accreditation practices in the United States of America (USA).
Methods: Medical program accreditation practices in nine developing countries were systematically analyzed using all available published documents. Findings were compared to USA accreditation practices.
Findings: Accreditation systems with explicitly defined criteria, standards and procedures exist in all nine countries studied: Argentina, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and South Africa. Introduction of accreditation processes is relatively recent, starting in 1957 in India to 2001 in Malaysia. Accrediting agencies were set up in these countries predominantly by their respective governments as a result of legislation and acts of Parliament, involving Ministries of Education and Health. As in the USA, accreditation: (1) serves as a quality assurance mechanism promoting professional and public confidence in the quality of medical education, (2) assists medical schools in attaining desired standards, and (3) ensures that graduates' performance complies with national norms. All nine countries follow similar accreditation procedures. Where mandatory accreditation is practiced, non-compliant institutions may be placed on probation, student enrollment suspended or accreditation withdrawn.
Conclusion: Accreditation systems in several developing countries are similar to those in the developed world. Data suggest the trend towards instituting quality assurance mechanisms in medical education is spreading to some developing countries, although generalization to other areas of the world is difficult to ascertain.