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RAHIM YAR KHAN: Shaikh Zayed Medical College Hospital (SZMCH) Principal Dr Tariq Ahmed has sought an explanation from two senior doctors of the healthcare facility for promoting in the media an upcoming private medical college, which they allegedly own.

SZMCH Head of Paediatric Department Prof Dr Mazhar Jam, who is also chairman of many significant committees, along with Associate Professor of Medicine Dr Moeen Akhtar Malik, had in a press conference last month at the district press club claimed that

after completion of the area’s largest and latest private hospital, they started a private medical college project -- RYK Medical and Dental College (RYKMDC) -- in 2020, which got completed last year.

Addressing the press conference, Dr Jam said classes would be started in the new college in the current year as a team of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) had visited the hospitals attached to the RYKMDC on Nov 12, 2021, and now they were waiting for the commission team to visit the college -- a prerequisite for granting it accreditation.

He also expressed hope that PMC would initially grant permission for admission of 100 students in the college’s MBBs programme, adding that from the next year seven different disciplines would also be launched there.

Prof Jam, giving details of the campus of the new college, had said its building was so huge it could cater to the needs of a medical university in the future. He had claimed that after Lahore it would be the largest medical university in south Punjab.

Comparing the college with the SZMCH, he had said 21 professors had been hired for RYKMDC, while the former had only nine professors. There were 11 associate professors, 29 assistant professors and 36 demonstrators in the private medical college, he had added.

According to sources, seven professors of the SZMCH were the actual owners of the RYKMDC and more than 20 professors were shareholders of the college, however, in the documents they showed their relatives as directors of the private college, which was registered as a company. Each director invested Rs60 million, while a shareholder Rs30m each in the Rs1 billion project, the sources said.

They say that of the three attached hospitals of the RYKMDC shown to the PMC team, one situated on the National Highway is allegedly being run by a woman deputy medical superintendent and her quack husband, while the two others did not fulfill the criteria of completing five-years period of functioning.

When contacted, Prof Dr Moeen Akhtar said that according to the Punjab Esta Code 2013, a public servant may deal in the ordinary course of business with a joint company, bank or a firm of standing or the House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC).

However, a senior lawyer, disagreeing with Prof Akhtar quoted the Pakistan Penal Code clause 168, that says: “whoever, being a public servant, and being legally bound as such public servant not to engage in trade, engages in trade shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”

SZMCH Principal Dr Tariq Ahmed says though it is good that a private medical college is being established here, the involvement of doctors working in government sector in a private medical venture was wrong, because it involves a clash of interests.

He says some owners of private medical colleges have influence in the PMC as it was a lucrative business.

He says he has called an explanation from Prof Dr Mazhar Jam and Dr Moeen Akhtar for promoting their private medical college in the media despite being government employees, adding that after receiving their reply, they will also be served show-cause notices and the matter will also be referred to the high-ups of the provincial health department soon.

When this correspondent contacted the PMC office for its comment on the accreditation process of private medical college, no spokesperson was available.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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