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Private medical colleges : PMDC no more credible

Private medical colleges held responsible: PMDC no more credible: member
Karachi, Aug 21: An elected member of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) from Sindh said on Friday that the regulatory body for the medical profession in the country had lost its credibility and needed to be bailed out from the influence of a “private medical college mafia” at the earliest.

Speaking at a press conference here the member, Dr Shershah Syed, claimed that more than half of the private medical colleges recognised by the PMDC did not even fulfil the minimally required criteria for a recognition.

“Today politicians and retired generals and health professionals having connections in the corridors of power have jumped on the medical education bandwagon to exploit the non-meritorious students seeking admissions and earn huge easy money,” he said.

Flanked by two former senior office-bearers of the Pakistan Medical Association, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar and Dr Qaiser Sajjad, Dr Shah severely criticised the overall working of the PMDC and mentioned that he could say with responsibility that the medical profession was going through a serious crisis now a days.

“If the government through the federal health ministry does not take appropriate and bold actions, the medical profession will never recover from its lost credibility, prestige and honour,” he said, adding that big politicians, well-known retired army generals, mafia of medical doctors belonging to the public and the private sectors were responsible for the mess.

He appealed to the federal health minister, the prime minister and the president of Pakistan to intervene and save the medical education and training and profession in the country.

He suggested for immediate actions like restructuring of the PMDC and making it a body of 35 members from all over the country as per a previous decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; equal representation from the private and the public sectors medical colleges in the PMDC; formation of an enquiry committee to look into the affairs of the recognition of private and public medical colleges.

He said that things could be corrected only by ensuring a complete transparency in the working of the PMDC and democratisation in decision making by the council instead of decisions from a hand-picked executive committee and the private mafia.

He expressed the view that the nominated members as well as the representatives of the private medical colleges did not allow the council to work as an autonomous, powerful and independent regulatory body.

“The members who try to raise their voice and talked about the observance of rules and regulations of the PMDC are undermined by the members representing the private medical colleges who formed a majority in the council and largely serving the interest of the owners of private medical colleges,” he said.

He said that a senate committee had decided some years ago for a moratorium on the opening of new medical colleges, but the PMDC was continuing recognising new institutions.

The PMDC had so far recognised 95 medical colleges in the public and the private sectors, many of which did not even have a proper or full-time faculty and meaningful teaching hospitals, which was a matter of grave concern, he said and pointed out that the PMDC was also unable to take notice of violations of rules like increase in the number of seats in colleges without the approval of the PMDC.

Dr Shah said that the Supreme Court in December 2006 had ordered the PMDC to complete the membership of the council in line with the PMDC ordinance, but there was no compliance with the order and the PMDC was working in total violation of the Supreme Court order and literally had become a private medical and dental council.

He further said that the owners of private medical colleges were showing their affiliation with rural health centres and district general hospitals run by the government and converting their status to tertiary care centres.

Dr Qaiser Sajjad said that because of the poor implementation of rules and absence of a commitment to them by the federal health ministry, the education and training components were being compromised and there was a fear that if things were not rectified, the nation would have to rest with the “glorified MBBS quacks” lacking basic qualities and proving dangerous for the nation and its masses in the coming days.

Dr Mirza Ali Azhar said that there was a need to think about the status and quality of medical education and training system of the country and having a foolproof regulation of medical institutions.

He was of the view that the civil society and doctors should join hands to make the government bring positive changes in the PMDC for the production of best doctors. Dawn

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