ISLAMABAD: In a first, the federal government has decided to revise the tenures of members of the country’s top medical education regulator apart from ending the representation of elected lawmakers on the board’s table. This is contained in the new Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) Ordinance 2019 which was approved by President Arif Alvi recently. According to the ordinance documents, the federal government has reduced the tenure of the council’s members from four years to just three years.
The membership of federal and provincial health ministers, federal secretaries including senate and national assembly members, has also been withdrawn, making the council free of political interference.
According to the ordinance, the new council will now comprise 17 members; of these, three members will be nominated by the prime minister. These members shall be prominent members of civil society.
Other members of the council will include a professor and an associate professor from each public medical college as per their rank and experience. They will be nominated by their respective provincial governments. Two members of the council will be from private medical colleges who will be nominated by the prime minister. Moreover, there will be two members from the clinical faculty of dental colleges who will be taken from the four provinces on a rotation basis. In this regard, one of these members will be chosen from either Punjab or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while the second member will be nominated from either Sindh or Balochistan. Another member of the council will be nominated by the surgeon general of the armed forces medical services group. The president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan (FCPS) will nominate one member.
As per the amended ordinance, the first meeting of the health council will be held within 15 days of the issuance of notification for council members. This meeting will elect the new president and vice president of PMDC from amongst the council members. A quorum of 11 members will be mandatory for the election while the presence of 10 members will be mandatory to call a general meeting of the council.
As per the amended ordinance, no one will be allowed to join the council until they submit an affidavit declaring that they stand to gain no personal benefit from being on the council. Hence, any member whose spouse or child is a direct or indirect owner of the medical or dental college will not be allowed to join the council.
The new ordinance further states that if any council member misses three consecutive meetings of the council or remain outside of Pakistan for more than a year, they will not be able to continue as a member of the council and any other suitable candidate will be included in the council in their stead for the remainder of the tenure.
As per the amended ordinance, the health ministry can remove the president and vice president of the council on five occasions: if two-thirds of the council decides to remove the president and vice president; in case their names are removed from the doctors’ registry due to any inquiry; they are declared mentally unstable; they are sentenced in a criminal case; or if they are found to be affiliated with any private institution.
The amended law states that the council will meet at least once every three months.
The PMDC Registrar will serve as the secretary of the meeting.
The council will continue its responsibility of regulating medical and dental institutions, educational establishments across the country.
The amended ordinance was introduced after it was run on an ad-hoc basis for the past 11 months after the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) dissolved the former council and replaced it with a nine-member council headed by a former SC judge.
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has already rejected the ordinance stating that it was created without taking them on board apart from introducing a nomination system, instead of the election system for members.