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LAHORE: In a surprise development, the University of Health Sciences, Lahore, has refused to conduct the National Examination Board exams after the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PM&DC) constituted a committee to oversee the exercise without taking the varsity into confidence.

The decision was taken in a meeting of the sub-committee of the Board of Governors (BoGs) of the UHS held at the varsity premises on Wednesday. The exams are due in a week’s time.

The committee also penned down its decision to cancel the appointment of 72 senior medical teachers (examiners) for the exam and sought apology from them, a senior official privy to the development told Dawn. He said the UHS had engaged these examiners from various medical colleges of Punjab to conduct the exams. The PMDC’s previous regime had requested the UHS to hold the NEB exams. He said the UHS would not sign the result cards of candidates.

As many as 682 Pakistan national medical graduates were to appear in the Step III exams which were earlier scheduled for Jan 29, 30 and Jan 31 of last month in Islamabad.

He said these students had qualified the Step I (Basic Sciences) and Step II (Clinical Sciences) exams which were conducted by the UHS and were held eligible for the last step.

Controversy with PMDC over supervision

The foreign medical graduates who pass MBBS exams from various countries including Russia, China and Cuba, have to pass the NEB exam to practice in Pakistan.

The controversy surfaced when newly-elected body of the PMDC, expressing its doubt on the credibility of the UHS, postponed the exams and announced new date sheet - Feb 11, 12 and Feb 13 -- for the purpose.

The “overnight development” shocked the UHS management when the PMDC, without taking it into confidence, constituted the committee of senior medical teachers to supervise the NEB Step III exams, the official said.

The committee comprised Fatima Jinnah Medical University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Fakhar Imam, Allama Iqbal Medical College Principal Prof Dr Mahmood Shaukat and Nishtar Medical College Principal Prof Dr Kamran Salik.

The PMDC also shifted the examination centres from Islamabad to Lahore (at AIMC and FJMU). After making arrangements, the council conveyed the UHS that this committee would supervise the exams and also indicated that some members of the council from Punjab might also join the committee.

The BoG committee in its meeting expressed serious concern over the PMDC decision since the UHS had been conducting various exams through its designated and foolproof examination system.

It recommended to the PMDC to conduct the exams at its own and committed to extend only logistic support.PMDC’s management committee member Dr Amir Bandesha defended the new step taken by the Council saying that it was done to ensure transparency in NEB exams.

He said the PMDC had accorded approval to all the new arrangements, including formation of the three-member committee of heads of medical institutions, to supervise the exams.

Dr Bandesha further said that the issue was accordingly discussed with the UHS vice chancellor when the modalities were being discussed in a meeting.

About the refusal by the UHS to conduct NEB exams, he said the PMDC would review it in its next executive committee meeting.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2016