THE establishment of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) must have been done with good and sincere intentions by the government and with a firm commitment to produce better overall management compared to the erstwhile Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). Unfortunately, however, the results have not been much encouraging so far.

In a recent search for getting my old PMDC certificate renewed, I came across the fact that the PMC has failed to put up on its listed qualifications the MSc Nuclear Medicine degree issued by the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), which is not only a subsidiary of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), but is also a full-fledged university with due blessings of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). I would like to believe that it is an act of negligence on the part of the PMC and nothing beyond that.

The same has been done with the radiation and medical oncology programme of the same institution. I found it intriguing that while the name of the PIEAS is missing, the institutions listed on the PMC website include those that do not even have basic equipment, like gamma camera, that happens to be the main equipment to run any nuclear medicine department. The PMC, however, has recognised them as good enough to award the MD degree.

The irony of the matter is that PIEAS is affiliated with an organisation like the PAEC and yet has been denied this status. PIEAS has been named a number of times as one of the top-ranking universities in the country and one of the few local universities that have global ranking.

It may also be noted that the same nuclear medicine programme under the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) is recognised, but not under PIEAS, making it a deliberate, if not malicious, attempt to undermine the institute.

The issue further creates a dilemma as approximately one-fourth of programme alumni are QAU degree holders and are recognised as per the PMC rules, while the majority coming from the same institute and programme are not placed in the same category. This sounds as illogical as it can be.

I hope the PIEAS management has already responded back strongly over this act of PMC as it is not only a matter of a degree-awarding status, but puts human health at stake, too, as it depicts that PIEAS might not have the capability to award this degree over the last so many years and has been offering poor training opportunities to its institutional manpower.

Better late than never, but PIEAS and PAEC should realise the magnitude of the problem and should have approached the PMC the day it attempted to de-recognise their long-standing programme(s).

At another level, the episode clearly shows the communication gap between two federally-administered institutions. The PMC should also be held responsible for the criteria it has worked out to recognise the degree-awarding status of institutions that lack the very basic needs for any professional programme.

The PIEAS/PAEC and the PMC should be transparent and professionally thorough in resolving this matter on an urgent basis.

Dr Zaheer Chiragh
Al-Qurayyat, Saudi Arabia

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021

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