THIS refers to the report ‘Fate of Pakistani medical graduates working in US hangs in balance’ (July 31) wherein Pakistani doctors may not be able to continue their practice in the United States (US) after January 2024 if the country fails to fulfil the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) criteria.

It is sad to see the dilemma of young Pakistani medical professionals who are currently practising in the US and of those who aspire to work there in the near future. According to the report, the defunct Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) had applied for WFME accreditation. It had invited WFME officials to visit Pakistan, but as the council got dissolved and was replaced by the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) which was formed in 2019, the visit was called off.

Although the PMC Act has until January 2024 to meet the criteria to get WFME accreditation, the PMC at the moment does not meet the criteria for the accreditation of the international body, because the PMC since its formation has been caught up in corruption scandals and investigations.

According to an official of Ministry of National Health Services, the US Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) has decided to allow only those foreign graduates to appear in United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) whose countries have WFME accreditation. This has been done after noticing below-par standards of doctors from foreign countries owing to private colleges in these countries whose focus is mainly on making commercial profits.

It is pertinent to mention that in Pakistan, President Ayub Khan in 1962 asked Lt-Gen W.A. Burki, a World War II veteran and a highly professional officer, to set up the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) on the pattern of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

As such, the CPSP was established for this purpose, and rules and regulations, as well as policies, training and award of degree were totally made in line with RCP practices. Lt-Gen Burki selected a group of 50 highly professional doctors from both East and West Pakistan for this assignment. It proved a great success and set a benchmark for the medical profession in the country.

However, today, because of deteriorating standards in our private medical schools, we need to have the WFME accreditation so that our doctors may work in the US after clearing the USMLE. But, unfortunately, the PMC is in a race against time to fulfil the criteria for getting the needed accreditation.

I hope the government and the relevant authorities will resolve this issue at the earliest so that the careers of hundreds of Pakistani doctors may be fully secured.

Jawaid Mannan
Karachi

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2022

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