ISLAMABAD: A team of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on Wednesday night sealed the building of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC), formerly known as Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), stopped employees from working and took the record in its custody.

Sajid Shah, a spokesperson for the ministry, told Dawn the step was taken as per Clause 28 of the PMC Act, under which the Council (a nominated body of PMC) will assign duties to the staff and so they cannot perform duties before that.

The PMC bill, passed at a joint session of the parliament last week, has been signed by President Alvi into law.

NA panel unhappy over passage of PMC bill

The passage of the bill triggered criticism as health practitioners believe that it will give unlimited powers to private medical and dental colleges in matters like fixation of fees, admission of students as centralised admission policy stands abolished. This will cause a decline in standard of teaching, they fear.

They observed that there would be no representation of parliament, provinces and the Supreme Court in the nine-member council.

The health practitioners termed the legislation against the spirit of the bill’s preamble, which envisaged uniform education in the country, and also against a decision of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which declared the Pakistan Medical Commission against the Constitution.

Mr Shah said the employees would be assigned duties only after constitution of the PMC council.

“Employees can visit their office in PMC, but they cannot do their duties. That is why a joint secretary of the ministry was sent to the PMC to implement the act,” he said.

According to a letter of the NHS Ministry, in consequence of approval of the PMC bill in a joint session of parliament, the competent authority (NHS secretary) is pleased to issue a “cease and desist order” for PMDC with immediate effect.

Later the Islamabad High Court declared the presidential ordinance null and void, but the government challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court. On April 17 the Supreme Court ordered reconstitution of the PMDC.

The Council decided to bring back the former registrar, retired Brigadier Hafizuddin Siddiqui, and he started efforts to clear the backlog soon after he took over as registrar.

The government tabled the PMC bill in a joint session of parliament and passed it.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on NHS expressed its concern on Wednesday over the passage of PMC Bill from the house without presenting it before the standing committee.

The meeting was chaired by PTI legislator Dr Afzal Khan Dhandla and held in the ministry.

Members said that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan had assured the committee in its last meeting that the PMC issue would be discussed in the committee and the amendment proposed by it would also be incorporated.

According to a statement, issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, the committee protested the passage of PMC bill.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2020