KARACHI, Feb 22: A Pakistan Medical and Dental Council member on Wednesday expressed concern over the approval of a PMDC bill by the National Assembly whereby the powers to recognise medical colleges at an initial stage will be given to the federal government while the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan (CPSP) will be deprived of the PMDC membership.

The member of the PMDC — the statutory regulation and registration authority for medical and dental education and practitioners for Pakistan — urged the senate to deliberate on the bill in depth to make it practicable before endorsing it.

“Isn’t it a joke that the new PMDC bill recently approved by the assembly gives powers to the government to recognise medical colleges in their initial period, instead of making the PMDC an independent and autonomous body?” said Dr Shershah Syed of the PMDC while speaking at a press conference.

The bill had no provision to make the CPSP a PMDC member although the former was  awarding postgraduate diplomas and degrees to 80 per cent of specialists in the country, Dr Syed added.

Describing the approval of the bill in the assembly as a decision taken in haste, he said that there were a number of flaws in the bill such as the criterion set for PMDC membership; the PMDC president’s ‘enormous’ hiring and firing powers; the council’s ‘uncalled for indulgence’ in the recognition of hospitals and their accreditation; and the powers given to the existing executive council for the next 12 months.

Laying emphasis on the completion of PMDC restructuring within three months on a war-footing basis, the PMDC member suggested to the government that a transparent system be evolved for the election of new PMDC members representing different institutions of the country. He urged the government to ensure that the incumbent registrar and executive committee did not interfere in the election process.

Blaming the PMDC executive committee for the deteriorating standards of medical education in the country, he said that the committee, which had no representation from the provinces, was responsible not only for the recognition of postgraduate education programmes offered at new medical universities but also for sacking ‘many honest employees’ such as Dr Sohail Karim Hashmi.

It was strange that a medical college professor and a university lecturer were made eligible to become members, Dr Syed said, alleging that such a clause had been inserted in the bill merely to give membership to those having vested interests in running PMDC affairs.

While medical councils across the world did not become involved in accreditation of hospitals, the recently approved bill allowed the PMDC to recognise and accredit hospitals, he said, apprehending that this might open new avenues of corruption and harassment of hospital managements by its executive committee.

Part-time varsities

Dr Syed said that being a PMDC member and a medical professional, he was extremely concerned about recognition of different postgraduate programmes offered at medical universities, because “all the medical universities in the country are part-time varsities with part-time vice chancellors, professors and deans who have little interest in postgraduate training and teaching.

“This kind of postgraduate programmes will only produce half-cooked, half-baked specialists who will not be able to provide proper healthcare to the citizens,” he opined.

At the outset, he appealed to the Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and other professional bodies to extend their support in making the PMDC a powerful, independent and autonomous regulatory body.

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