Islamabad: Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza has announced office bearers of newly constituted Pakistan Medical Commission. Dr Arshad Taqi will be the President and Ali Raza the Vice President of the new body.
Dr Nasir Mohyeddin has been temporarily elected as Secretary General of the commission for three months; later on, a permanent seat of Secretary General will be announced.
After the promulgation of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) Ordinance 2019, Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) Ordinance 1962 stands dissolved. The PMC shall be the supreme authority regulating medical and dental education and practice in the country.
The PMDC had become dysfunctional and was failing to regulate the medical and dental profession. It had become a corrupt conglomerate of various vested interests. It served anyone but the general public and the profession. Reform was much needed.
PMC, a triumvirate, will allocate responsibilities among its constituents: Medical & Dental Council (Council), National Medical & Dental Academic Board (Board) and a National Health Authority (Health Authority).
Three committees have also been constituted, including Legal and Regulatory Committee, Finance Committee, and Human Resource Committee. The National Medical Commission Authority is expected to be announced soon.
The council will be the apex body of the commission, and the academic board and health authority shall work under its supervision.
For the first time, the council shall have non-doctors as members. This is in line with other countries where members from civil society are felt essential for protecting the rights of the public.
The new commission has envisaged that no vested interests will come into play while discharging their duties and has ensured that no members of the commission shall have any conflict of interests in terms of ownership interests in a teaching hospital or institution, or medical or dental college or university. The commission has been empowered to initiate suo motu inquiries in cases of alleged medical malpractices or negligence.
The ordinance mandates conducting an examination (MDCAT) for entrance to medical colleges. Passing this exam would be compulsory for admission to any public or private medical/dental college. It is for the private medical colleges to decide the weightage given to marks obtained in the MDCAT.
According to the new ordinance, the standards and structure of the medical or dental faculty will be at the mercy of the private or public medical universities. The section 20(5) of PMC’19 reads: “The standard and structure of faculty shall be regulated as prescribed by either the Higher Education Commission (HEC) or the university to which a college is affiliated or any other law applicable to a public teaching institution”. Section 20(7). Here the private medical colleges have been empowered to fix their own fee structure without cap.
It comes across as a paradox when the law seeking to regulate medical and dental education is in essence deregulating the same as far as MDCAT weightage, structure of faculty, and fees charged to students are concerned. Maybe in times to come amendments may appear for betterment.
In a welcome move, the law also introduces a uniform National Licensing Examination (NLE). Passing the NLE will be a mandatory for any graduate before a provisional or full license is issued to them. However, any medical or dental graduate who has obtained a license to practice in a foreign country or qualified from a foreign institution even if not recognized by the Commission, but has acquired a post-graduate qualification in Pakistan or from a foreign institution recognized by the Council shall be exempted from NLE and shall be granted a full license to practice.
The ordinance shall recognize post-graduate qualifications granted by the CPSP and shall also recognize any hospital for post-graduate training that the CPSP recognizes as such.
Interestingly there is no authority to regulate the CPSP when it comes to standards of medical education. With the new law, the CPSP can grant any post-graduate qualification or recognize any institution at its discretion. No body in the country could check its standards or question them. The president of the CPSP has been given a permanent ex-officio seat on the council.
Needless to mention that, both, PMA and PDA have rejected the ordinance.