PMDC dissolved, new body to regulate medical profession

Updated October 21, 2019

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President Dr Arif Alvi has promulgated an ordinance which has left the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) dissolved and paved the way for establishment of a new organisation namely Pakistan Medial Commission (PMC). — AFP/File
President Dr Arif Alvi has promulgated an ordinance which has left the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) dissolved and paved the way for establishment of a new organisation namely Pakistan Medial Commission (PMC). — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has promulgated an ordinance which has left the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) dissolved and paved the way for establishment of a new organisation namely Pakistan Medial Commission (PMC).

The PMC will be run by a nine-member body and the head of the commission would be called president. The notification for the new ordinance is expected to be issued on Monday (today).

Moreover, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) through the Islamabad district administration and police took over the possession of the PMDC building and directed 220 employees of the council that the office will remain shut for one week.

However, the representative body of doctors, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), has termed the decision undemocratic and appealed to political parties to reject the presidential ordinance.

Even though it was an off day on Sunday panic was triggered in the medical fraternity in the afternoon after the district administration and the police had taken over the council building.

Issuance of ordinance on Sunday sparks panic among doctors

Hours later a statement was issued by the ministry of NHS stating that the president has signed a new ordinance titled ‘Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance, 2019’ by virtue of which a new era will begin with reference to regulation and control of the medical profession by establishing uniform minimum standard of medical education and training and recognition of qualifications in medicine and dentistry.

“Implementation of new Ordinance requires dissolution of current PMDC. Government of Pakistan hence on Sunday directed the temporary shutting down of the offices of Council. This would ensure protection of the essential records and assets of PMDC. The offices will remain shut for one week. PMC shall be a body corporate consisting of (1) The Medical and Dental Council; (2) The National Medical and Dental Academic Board; and (3) The National Medical Authority, which will act as a Secretariat of the Commission,” it states.

The government of Pakistan has acted immediately to protect the extremely important records relating to licensing and registration of all medical and dental practitioners in Pakistan as well as the records of medical and dental educational institutions in view of the approval of the new Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance. The new medical commission is expected to start operations within a week.

“The inconvenience caused to practitioners and others is regretted. However, it was essential to protect the original records and assets of PMDC being the government’s priority and responsibility. In order to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to ongoing medical and dental admissions, the Ministry of NHS will be taking necessary steps immediately for the supervision and overseeing of the admissions process to ensure it is properly completed,” the statement concludes.

When contacted, PMDC registrar retired Brig Dr Hafizuddin Ahmed Siddiqui, who was appointed in July this year for a term of three years, said that even he was not aware that the ministry had decided to take over the building.

“I am very much concerned about the secrecy and protection of the record of the council. Moreover, I am also concerned about the future of 220 employees of the council as they get bread and butter for their families from this institution and I suggest that employees should not be terminated,” he said.

A former member of the council, requesting not to be named, said that a few days back representatives of private colleges held a meeting in Lahore, which was participated by a personality from the United States through Skype.

“During the meeting it was principally decided that soon a new ordinance would be promulgated due to which responsibilities of the PMDC, as a regulator of medical colleges, would be minimised and colleges would be allowed to increase fees, they would not be pushed to have certain number of faculty members, colleges would be allowed to make their own criterion of admission and every college would be allowed to chose university of its choice, etc,” he said.

‘Need of the hour’

When contacted, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that the new ordinance was need of the hour.

“World has progressed but we are still following decades old methods for our medical education. We need to liberalise our medical education and for that practices of other countries would be followed,” he said.

While replying to a question, he said that it was necessary to take over the council building to protect the sensitive record.

“There will be nine members in PMC and it would be run through a president,” Dr Mirza said.

Secretary General PMA Dr Qaisar Sajjad, while talking to Dawn, said that promulgation of the ordinance was an undemocratic step by a democratic government.

“The government should have tabled a bill in Parliament House so that all stakeholders would have given their input. If it was necessary to promulgate the ordinance, the government should have abolished the PMDC 1962 Ordinance as the new ordinance is also in violation of 1962 Ordinance which states that council shall be established through elected representatives from medical fraternity. We demand that political parties should reject the ordinance,” he said.

It is worth mentioning that the PMDC has been facing a number of issues and during over a decade successive governments tried to get the control of the council.

In first week of January this year, President Alvi promulgated an ordinance titled ‘PMDC Ordinance 2019’ suggesting that a 17-member council would deal with the issues related to medical colleges, attached hospitals and health professionals.

Later the council was established and bill was introduced in the Senate on March 7 and refereed to the standing committee. Finally on August 26, the standing committee passed the bill.

However, Pakistan Peoples Party parliamentary leader in the upper house Sherry Rehman on August 29 tabled a resolution for disapproval of ‘PMDC Bill 2019’ which was passed. The same day the government withdrew the bill and it was announced that a new bill, with consultation of the opposition, would be tabled.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2019