MBChB vs MBBS: Are They the Same?

MBChB vs MBBS: Are They the Same?

MBChB vs MBBS! How are they different from each other?

What should I pursue? These are some of the most-asked questions by medical aspirants from Zimbabwe and South Africa. Annually, more and more students are lining up to pursue a medical career. Some are confused about the degree titles and are often put off by it.

So this article will settle the debate by explaining the difference, if any, and why they are named differently. Before we begin, let us check out what MBChB vs MBBS degrees stand for:



Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) is a five-year integrated undergraduate course. It includes residency programs as part of the curriculum. The program mainly deals with implementing medical-based knowledge in clinical and medical sciences. The program generates different communicative skills and attitudes that are necessary for the proper treatment of the patients.

Any students that have attained ‘A’ levels with a pass in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Mathematics or a Life Science and Physical Science with an associate degree/diploma in Health Science program are eligible to undertake this course. 

Several institutes have entrance exams as one of the selection processes that allow them to choose the best from a pool of applicants. The program is split into Phase-I, where the students are trained in medicine-based learning, and Phase II, where they receive clinical knowledge.


Bachelor of Medical and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS program) is a four and a half year undergraduate course that is mainly recognized for imparting medical knowledge to candidates and make them acknowledge health as the top priority for care as a career. 

The program also trains candidates to fulfill the social obligations that enable them to realize the true medical ethos. The program provides the ideal balance in which the candidates can learn every aspect of health policies and dedicate themselves to practically implementing them in their practice.

The educational qualification requirements for MBBS admissions are basically the same as an MBChB course. The program has a 4.5-year tenure and also adds one-year mandatory residency positions service in some countries.

Why Are There Different Names to the Same Degree?

When looking at a medical school prospectus online, you may have noticed that different medical courses sometimes have various abbreviations listed for the degrees they award. 

For instance, in the course information on the prospectus or brochure, it may affirm something like “Degree Awarded: MBChB Medicine,” while another medical school might state “Degree Awarded: MBBS Medicine.” Medical schools in North America also follow a different naming scheme, Doctor of Medicine (MD), and the list goes on.

The MBBS program originated in the UK, and the medical degree awarded from a UK medical school is called a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery. While this may appear to be two degrees, they are actually treated as an individual stand-alone degree known as MBBS. 

Many countries (mostly former British colonies) have embraced this UK convention of granting a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree. Graduates of these degrees take the Doctor (Dr) title. On the other hand, North American Medical schools award the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD).

MBBS vs MBChB: They Are the Same!

One is expressed in English as Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and the other in Latin as Medicinae Baccalaureus, Baccalaureus Chirurgiae. Most former British colonies utilize MBBS as a title for their undergraduate medical degree, while MBChB is used for many Latin African and some European countries. 

How Are They Different?

In theory, MBBS and MBChB are essentially the same degrees intended to serve as an undergraduate medical education degree that preps medical aspirants on the cornerstone of medical knowledge and training for practicing general medicine and surgery.

Medical aspirants do not need to worry about losing out on critical medical knowledge and training by picking one over the other. However, if they intend to practice abroad, they might want to make sure that the degree is recognized by the country’s government and national medical community for medical licensing.

Medical graduates of the MBBS course and MBChB program are eligible for medical licensing provided that the local government and the medical council recognizes the degree.

Doctors: The Need of the Hour

There is a massive demand for medical health professionals in both countries. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the shortcomings of both countries’ medical sectors. The lack of personnel has been a significant factor that caused a lack of adequate care and containment of the sick resulting in the loss of lives.

In South Africa, Profmed’s CEO Craig Comrie reported that the number of medical professionals emigrating rose from 17% to 30% in June and July of 2019. Though the government is taking steps to open more medical jobs in the countries, they have not met the required number of medical professionals to keep the medical sector viable.

Zimbabwe already struggles with providing better healthcare for its population with medical professionals and equipment shortages. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse.

Aspirants can practice medicine by enrolling in medical colleges by choosing either an MBBS program or an MBChB program. International students from surrounding countries are also increasingly showing interest in medicine in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. This interest may be the key to solving the deficit and improving both countries’ healthcare.

How Can These Nations Benefit from Qualified Doctors?

In the case of both South African and Zimbabwe, qualified medical professionals are in need. However, can they make things better? We think they can make a significant impact. Let us explain how:

1. A Better Network of Professionals: Strength in numbers is not just a saying. More trained medical professionals can provide better collaboration and group effort to provide better care and feedback to the authorities. 

2. Reduced Overall Pressure: One of the most significant factors bogging down the quality of healthcare in South Africa and Zimbabwe is workload pressure. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals had a growing concern over work pressure affecting their performance. More doctors will aid this cause and reduce the stress for medical professionals overall.

3. Offer More Extensive Coverage: Thousands of people have to travel hundreds of kilometers and wait for long hours before they can meet the doctor. Medical professionals are often concentrated in urban areas, limiting their intake to provide care and increase rivalry among fellow practitioners. More doctors can move out and set up clinics in rural and semi-urban areas to suit their practice. 

4. Opportunities for Research and Specialization: South Africa and Zimbabwe are some of the most untapped areas of research. It also lacks qualified specialists who can treat more complicated ailments. The improvement in technology and advanced research methods might open up new development and specialization pathways that can aid these countries and humanity as a whole.

5. Influence and Improve Public Health: As a doctor, one will be able to grow as a medical professional, connect and network with influential individuals in the medical sector, and influence public health professionals and improve public health policies if they are passionate about healthcare.

Whether you choose MBBS or MBChB, you will be getting the same knowledge and clinical skills required to help protect patients. MBBS/MBChB is also the first step to higher education in medicine if you hope to pursue a medical specialization. 

We hope this article helps you understand the MBChB vs MBBS argument or lack thereof and hopefully be inspired to become a qualified medical professional to aid your country. 


Mr.Saju Bhaskar


Texila American University

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