ISLAMABAD: During the past tenure of Pakistan People’s Party’s rule, some corrupt high officials within the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) and Ministry of National Regulation were apparently on a reckless spree to make loads of money by approving a mushroom growth of sub-standard medical colleges all over the country.
To evaluate and rectify this corruption and criminal negligence of PMDC, the government had recently formed a special commission which will take concrete measures and resolve this crisis. The commission has now recommended the closure of five medical colleges which were poorly structured and unable to meet the quality standards.
According to recent media reports; Justice (retd) Syed Shabbar Raza Rizvi – Chairman of this enquiry commission, has given a 1,000-page report, which recommends that the facilities and systems at the following colleges donot meet the quality regulations and thus should be De-Recognised by the PMDC and closed down. These colleges include: Muhammad Bin Qasim Medical College, Karachi, Bhitai Dental and Medical College Mirpurkhas, Sahiwal Medical College, Pak Red Crescent Medical College Lahore, and Hashmat Medical College, Gujrat.
The commission stated that some private medical colleges were being set up solely for making money while the government medical colleges were being set up for political mileage. Once among the best in the world, the medical education in Pakistan faced the worst-ever deterioration during the last five years and billions were collected by registering mostly substandard medical institutions, pushing up the number of these colleges from 20 to 128, an increase of 650 percent in less than six years. Since 1947 till February 2007 (around 60 years), there were only 20 recognised and notified medical institutions in Pakistan but soon after a mafia forcibly took control of the affairs of medical education regulator in the country — PMDC — and registration of sub-standard medical colleges started at a rapid pace.
The official requirement for maintaining a hospital having all major departments with emergency services is at least 250 beds (for 50 students), 500 beds (for 100 students) and so on. Maintaining a faculty of given number of professors in all 16 major subjects in the medical college, a building and labs of defined standards, financial and legal position were the basic requirements to get a medical college recognised.
However, the mafia bulldozed everything, relaxed conditions, lowered the standards and even did not strictly implement the relaxed conditions. The result is now emerging in the form of incapable and untrained doctors unable to cope with the emergency situations.
The top guns of PMDC and Ministry of NRS were caught red-handed registering nineteen medical colleges in the month of December 2012 alone, which raised many eyebrows. The names of medical colleges which were registered in one go by Ministry of NRS include: Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College, Karachi (public): People’s University of Medical and Health Sciences Nawabshah (public); Al-Nafees Medical College, Islamabad (Private); Ameer-ud-Din (PGMI) Medical College, Lahore (public); Aziz Fatimah Medical and Dental College, Faisalabad (private); Khawaja Muhammad Safdar Medical College, Sialkot (public); Rawal Institute of Health Sciences, Islamabad (Private); Gujranwala Medical College, Gujranwala (public); Bhittai Dental and Medical College, Mirpurkhas (private); Sahiwal Medical College, Sahiwal (public); Muhammad bin Qasim Medical and Dental College, Karachi (private); Bannu Medical College, Bannu (public); Pak Red Crescent Medical and Dental College, Lahore (public); Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College Mirpur, AJK (public); Hashmat Medical and Dental College, Gujrat (private); AJK Medial College, Muzaffarabad (public); Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences, Quetta (private); Dental Section, Dow International Medical College Karachi and Islam Dental College, Sialkot (private).
Besides seeking closure of five colleges, Justice (R) Shabbar Rizvi has also mentioned that “A note of December 30, 2011 shows that Mr Irshad Hussain, then Deputy Secretary, Dr Fayyaz Ahmad Ranjha, then Director General Health and Mr Ghulam Rasool Aphan then Secretary Ministry of National Regulations and Services were sitting together and signed approval of 19 files of medical colleges together. It also appears that the Director General Health and the Secretary NRS used the same pen.”
The commission recommended that Muhammad Bin Qasim Medical College, Karachi; Bhitai Dental and Medical College Mirpurkhas; Sahiwal Medical College, Pak Red Crescent Medical College Lahore and Hashmat Medical College Gujrat are hereby recommended by this commission to be de-recognised under the relevant provision of PM&DC Ordinance 1962/Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Act, 2012, in accordance with law. These colleges were not in a position to fulfil the criteria laid down by the PMDC for a lawful recognition on December 30, 2011. Their application forms when applied were not complete to go through the prescribed 10 stages. They were also not found delivering at the time of inspections by this commission.
“The affected these five medical colleges shall be adjusted as directed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in PLD 2007 SC 323 and as the PMDC has already done in several cases wherein medical and dental colleges were de-recognised in the past.” Regarding the inspectors who inspected these colleges before recognition, the commission has proposed that they shall not be made part of any inspection team for at least one year.
Regarding two government sector colleges, the commission maintained that AJK Medical College Muzaffarabad and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College Mirpur are financed by the federal government and that the government is advised to have a strict check on the financial affairs of these colleges to ensure that public money is spent honestly to achieve objectives.
“As discussed in each case of the 19 medical colleges, the recognition procedure was not followed whether public or private sector. However, difference between colleges in public and private sector is that in private sector the motivation factor for establishment of a medical college was/ is to make good money whereas in case of public sector the urge to establish medical college was/is either to service or gaining political mileage or both simultaneously. The supreme court of Pakistan also found: “We may observe that over the last few decades there has been a mushroom growth of medical and dental institutions in private sector. The element of commercialism has been more pronounced than commitment to academic excellence.” (PLD 2007 SC 323)