KARACHI: The Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) has rejected the formation of the recently announced Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) ordinance by the government and the subsequent dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).
In a statement, President PIMA, Prof Muhammad Afzal Mian, noted the decision to be undemocratic and hastily taken with far-reaching negative consequences not only to doctors but also to the country overall.
He noted that an ordinance concerning the critical issue of medical education and its regulation had been brought in by force after bypassing the parliament in a very hasty manner. Seven out of 9 members of Council have been nominated by one person, the prime minister of Pakistan, unlike previous democratic elections. This means that representatives from the medical community with a fair and balanced point of view will not be able to reach the decision-making forum.
Afzal Mian said that despite the presence of several professional bodies, no stakeholder was taken on board when reaching this decision. With handpicked nominations in the first place, no one can expect merit and accountability in the functions of various subcommittees. The US model of taking a licensing exam after graduation to start house job will be a disaster for a country where similar standards to the US are not at all available. There are contradictions in the same ordinance regarding the standards of accreditation and their implementation, which will lead to serious effects on the standard of medical education in the country.
He explained that the sudden announcement has shell shocked thousands of medical and dental students as well as doctors in training who were waiting for their registration, and put a cloud over their future in the country where such serious decisions are taken in haste. Dismissal of all employees of a premier institution with one stroke of a pen is entirely unjust.
“There is no doubt that the PMDC was not free of corruption, nepotism, and bribery. Its functioning was painstakingly slow at times. However, rather than the sudden dissolution, a fair process was required to differentiate the culprits from the innocents. If this is the way, inept departments or dealt with virtually no institution will be kept intact as all have serious governance failure. It appears that there is just change of name of the same institution with similar functions, which will be run by people nominated by one person, and whose powers and actions, will be above criticism,” he added.
He demanded the immediate cancellation of the ordinance, the opening of the PMDC offices, and restoration of its functions. This will bring respite to be medical and dental students as well as doctors in training who are waiting for their progress that has been halted abruptly. The government should strengthen the PMDC and announce fresh elections of the PMDC immediately as per the 1962 PMDC act, amended in 2012, to inculcate fresh representatives elected by the doctors’ fraternity. It should trust the elected representatives and adopt a policy of non-intervention.
PIMA President, Afzal Mian, further demanded ensuring merit and cleansing the PMDC of its flaws via an accountability process. The government should involve professional organizations, including the PMA and the PIMA, in an advisory role. The PMDC should ensure equal opportunities in public and private universities, including the admission process. Taking one entrance exam for all public and private medical colleges, centrally or provincially, must be ensured. There should be regulation of the fee structure of private medical colleges to bring it within reach of the middle class, especially.
He called for the cancellation of the proposed licensing exam for local graduates before starting house job. Improving standards of medical education should be the aim instead, which will ensure better quality graduates. In case of no immediate and meaningful action by the government to revert its act, the PIMA will join hands with other professional bodies to resist it and will consider taking the legal course.