KARACHI: The Pakistan Dental Association (PDA) had rejected the establishment of the Pakistan Medical Commission through a Presidential Ordinance, which dissolved the former regulatory authority: Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.
A recent PDA press release quoted its President, Dr Mahmood Shah, and Secretary-General, Prof Nasir Ali Khan, saying that the formation of the “Pakistan Medical Commission” through a Presidential Ordinance is yet another joke with the health of the nation. “Nothing has changed even after the previous PMDC Ordinance unceremoniously lapsed as no lessons have been learned. Only the previous council has been replaced by a more authoritarian commission, in order to further enhance the governmental authority over an autonomous body of professionals,” it said.
The press release went on to claim that only the nomenclature had been changed, because the new Commission again consists of ‘selected’ persons like the previous Pakistan Medical and Dental Council Ordinance, whereby the government-nominated persons were given charge of the PMDC. An example was used of the incidence when two of PMDC’s dissenting council members were immediately shown the door and very conveniently replaced by two other nominees after the introduction of the last PMDC Ordinance. Furthermore, they questioned why the Ordinance had been named the “Pakistan Medical Commission.” If the Commission pertains to both medical and dental matters, better terminology could have been used, such as the “Pakistan Health Commission.”
The PDA office-bearers lamented the lack of apparent health goals, general or that of dental or oral health, in the Ordinance; in a scenario such as this in which such commissions are constituted through Ordinances, we cannot hope to reduce the prevalence of tuberculosis, stunted growth, dengue, hepatitis, malaria, oral cancers, and the list goes on. “Sadly, the common man will continue to suffer.”
The PDA questioned why the government wished to re-invent the wheel for restructuring the health sector when the already established and successful health models are available in our peer countries. They raised an important query about why the government had been refusing to simply form a steering committee comprising of all major parties of the National Assembly and other stakeholders including the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Pakistan Dental Association (PDA), Young Doctors Association (YDA), Pakistan Association of Private and Medical Institutions (PAMI), to formulate a consensus health structuring draft for approval by the National Assembly and Senate.
Such a situation could not exist in case of a duly elected council, the PDA press release suggested.
The PDA predicted in its press release that this undemocratic shortcut will work; this Ordinance will also die its natural death within 90 days.
The PDA rejected the formation of the Pakistan Medical Commission and called for genuine reforms in the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and the creation of its new council through the process of direct elections.