ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has forwarded a list of 17 applicants wishing to establish medical colleges across the country to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), which will evaluate the applications and decide on their registration.

NHS Secretary Ayub Sheikh said the ministry received over 30 applications, 17 of which were found to have complete documentation and were forwarded to the council to carry out physical inspections of the colleges.

Mr Sheikh said the other applications lacked affiliation letters with universities. “Some applications lacked land documents, and others failed to provide a back guarantee for the project. Now it’s the council’s job to look into the applications and reject those that don’t have the proper facilities.”

According to documents available with Dawn the shortlisted colleges to be established in Punjab include the Watim Dental College Rawalpindi, CMH Kharian Medical College, Bakhtawar Amin Medical College Multan (Dental College), HITEC Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) Taxila, Rai Institute of Medical Sciences Sargodha, Doctors Medical and Dental College Sargodha and M Islam Medical and Dental College Gujranwala.

NHS ministry received 30 applications, of which 17 were forwarded to council to conduct physical inspections

The shortlisted colleges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa include the North West School of Medicine Peshawar, Windsor Medical College Haripur, Gajju Khan Medical College Swabi, Nowshera Medical College and Rehman College of Dentistry Peshawar.

Applications from Sindh include the Sindh Institute of Oral Health Sciences and Khaipur Medical College, while shortlisted applications from Balochistan include the Turbat Medical College (Kech), Loralai Medical College and Khuzdar Medical College.

The council has been asked to verify all the documentation and then initiate the process for recognition under the PMDC ordinance 1962.

An official from the NHS ministry requesting anonymity said: “In Pakistan, we already have 143 medical and dental colleges, out of which 92 are private and 51 are in the public sector. Pakistan is being criticised at international forums because of the large number of medical colleges and the poor quality of education. After the registration of another 17 colleges, the total number will reach 160,” he said.

He said there are 36 medical colleges in the United Kingdom, and less than 150 in the United States.

“Currently, we don’t have faculty members for subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, forensic medicine etc. In some colleges, nearly 50pc of seats are vacant even though one faculty member is registered in many colleges, and the rules have been relaxed to allow assistant and associate professors to become dean if a professor is unavailable,” he said.

“At one time, there was a demand for Pakistani doctors abroad because they had very good clinical experience, but now colleges don’t have the required number of beds and patients in affiliated hospitals, so the quality of fresh medical graduates is worsening continuously.”

An official from the PMDC, who was not authorised to speak on the record, said applications cannot be stopped from submitting applications, and the council has to evaluate these applications according to the rules.

“We will upgrade the standard of medical colleges, and ensure their implementation, because of which only colleges providing quality education will continue, and the others will be closed automatically. We will not allow admissions in colleges lacking basic facilities, and steps have been taken to ensure that one faculty member does not work at two institutes,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2016