PESHAWAR, Sept 21: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is planning to upgrade the Khyber Medical College (KMC) and give it a status of university to facilitate specialised research work and meet the growing need for establishment of more medical colleges, official sources say.

“The plan is being made in consultation with the KMC faculty members and a proposal in this regard will be forwarded to the government soon,” they said.

The officials said that the upgradation of the KMC to university level was announced by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 1989 after a long struggle. However, instead of upgrading the KMC, which has all the needed facilities at its campus, to the university level the Khyber Medical University (KMU) was established in Hayatabad Township in 2006 that left the senior faculty members of the KMC high and dry, they said.

The sources said that the plan was being considered in view of the growing needs of students and medical research in the province. They said that the KMC had more than four faculties, a minimum requirement of the Higher Education Commission for awarding charter to a university and there would be no problem in getting it upgraded.

If upgraded, the university would remain in the present KMC building in the campus where all the facilities required for a university already existed, they said.

“We are committed to building more institutions as we need more doctors and research work in view of the growing population and disease burden,” a senior official told Dawn .

They said that the KMC already had a teaching hospital known as the Khyber Teaching Hospital, which was generating about Rs40 million revenues annually. After its upgradation, it can get affiliation of more medical colleges and teaching hospitals, the beneficiaries of which would be the students and patients of this province.

“The KMC when upgraded will attract people from other provinces for research work, which it cannot do presently because only a university can grant such degrees and affiliation to the medical colleges,” he said.

The official said that the KMU at the Hayatabad Township would continue to grant degrees and oversee the medical colleges presently affiliated with it in the province and the upgradation of the KMC to university would not affect its operations.

“According to the initial concept, the KMC (university) would seek development of medical education by setting up more medical colleges in the province,” he said.

The official said that the King Edwards Medical College, Lahore, had raised objection to the establishment of the KMC in 1954, arguing that it did have teaching hospital, which was a pre-requisite for a college. He said that the existing Lady Reading Hospital, then a district headquarters hospital, was upgraded for this purpose and today the KMC was a premier centre of medical education in the province.

“Upgradation of the KMC would cost nothing to the government because it already had full-fledged facilities,” the official said. A meeting is likely to be held next month to make a decision about the KMC upgradation, he said, adding that given its academic and clinical potential it could become a self-sufficient university within a short span of time.