PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council has begun a series of inspections for medical and dental colleges across the country to help them adopt the minimum standards set by the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME).

The officials told Dawn that the PMDC was required to regulate medical education in the country and allow medical and dental colleges in public and private sector but in the past, the colleges were allowed to admit students on the ‘basis of headcounts and bricks and mortars without putting emphasis on processes and outcomes’ and thus, causing standards to decline.

They said the colleges would be given time during every of the three inspections to overcome weaknesses and those not doing so would be barred from offering MBBS and BDS degrees and that they would lose recognition at national and international levels.

Officials say those without facilities even after three inspections will be de-recognised

The officials said the ongoing four-week inspection will last until Aug 29.

They said of the total 167 public and private medical and dental colleges, 102 had so far been inspected.

The officials said the colleges, whose facilities and academic standards were found to be lacking during initial inspection, would be informed to take corrective measures before re-inspection in Jan 2020, while those failing to do so would have another chance to address deficiencies for the final round slated for May 2020.

They said only those failing to meet the minimum requirements in the third and final inspections would be de-recognised and closed before the 2020 admissions.

The officials said the exercise leading to the closure of colleges without facilities was meant to improve quality of medical and dental education in the country in line with international standards.

The officials said in a bid to check conflict of interest, the senior council members had been kept away from inspections for the first time in light of their association with public and private colleges.

“The exercise is not for closing down colleges and instead, it is meant to bring a basic minimal standard. We have launched a baseline data gathering exercise about colleges in a novel transparent manner, where subjectivity has been replaced by objectivity closing all avenues for manipulation and interference,” an official said.

The officials said the inspectors were graduates and PhDs in medical education from one province and worked in another and that they signed an affidavit before entering the colleges to be inspected that they were not graduates, employees or former employees of those college and that none of their immediate family members was a student or employee there.

They said it was an international practice that neither inspectors nor colleges to be inspected knew about the scoring criteria and that the inspectors just filled ‘yes and notick box’ proformas without knowing the weightage or score of any question.

The officials said the new inspection format would help colleges improve their standards.

They said for the first time, the PMDC had involved technocrats in the inspection process.

The officials said professional architects, civil engineers and civil inspectors were sent to colleges, where they examined the building drawings and maps before carrying out physical surveys using sophisticated light distance meters instead of measuring tapes.

They also said modern equipment had been given to qualified biomedical engineers, who checked specifications, purchase orders, service history, logbook, functionality, and equipment maintenance to close the doors on the practice of borrowing and renting equipment just for the day of inspection.

The officials said the PMDC had engaged medical educationists to improve curriculum, teaching methodology and assessment techniques.

They said the introduction of feedback systemfor faculty andstudents through confidential interviews had produced a wealth of information, especially about non-payment and underpayment of stipends to house-job doctors, trainees and even faculty members.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019