Pakistan has been going through dual transformation in medical education - Dr. Gohar Wajid

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Issues and Challenges with post COVID19 Medical Education
Pakistan has been going through
dual transformation in medical
education - Dr. Gohar Wajid
Robust leadership of the medical profession is
needed to find solution to various problems

CAIRO: Pakistan has been going through dual transformation in medical education for the last few years and in view of the COVID19 pandemic, robust leadership of the medical profession is needed to tackle various issues and find a solution to numerous problems. This was stated by Dr. Gohar Wajid a noted medical educationist affiliated with WHO EMRO in a meeting organized on Zoom attended by many faculty members, medical educationists from various countries on March 18th 2021. The topic of his presentation was “Issues and Challenges with post COVID19 Medical Education in Pakistan.”


Dr. Gohar Wajid

Pakistan, he said, has seen a radical change in structural design in the field of medical education. While in the 80s, there used to be three players i.e. Pakistan Medical & Dental Council, College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan and sixteen medical colleges but now there are six players. These include the Pakistan Medical Commission, Higher Education Commission, twelve medical universities, CPSP and a large number of medical and dental colleges both in public and private sector. One hundred fifty six medical and dental colleges have different objectives, hence they need proper direction. We have had too many transformation changes and there are quite a few questions which needs to be answered by Pakistan Medical Commission. These questions include what is going to be the new norm, what is going to be the professional autonomy, issues about quality of medical education, issues related to professional recognition, there are issues of clinical and non-clinical divide, there are issues of non-accreditation and registration of various degrees. Then there are issues related to social contract. New regulations are being formed hence what is going to be the role of public and private sector in medical education, he asked?

Online education is going to be the new norm in Pakistan, hence what will be the fate of digital education? The role of regulatory bodies is very important in this regard. One hundred fifty six medical and dental colleges should be told what to do online and what not to do and what contents needs to be retained and covered through face to face education. All medical colleges are of varying standards and facilities. Their student’s number also vary. We have also seen issues of faculty in basic sciences, he remarked. Continuing Dr. Gohar Wajid stated that if the PMC structure fails to achieve the desired objectives, we might have to revert back to the old format. Hence what will be the best practice, he asked? We need to resolve issues with medical education, what to do and what not to do? How we should achieve the competency based performance which has been defined? Then there are issues related to cost effectiveness and sustainability issues, Dr. Gohar Wajid added.

Dr. Gohar Wajid was of the view that any kind of change must be supplemented by regulatory reforms. Faculty development is very important. So far Pakistan does not have a structured faculty development programme. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) has not developed since there is no requirement. It is extremely important that any change should be supported by regulatory bodies. He discussed in detail the Digital reforms, Regulatory reforms and Curriculum reforms. In any outcome based competency programme, student’s empowerment is a must and extremely important, he remarked. Integration has to be there. Capacity building and faculty development has to go side by side. Let us see how the Pakistan Medical Commission plays its role. There are serious issues of quality of education and accreditation.

He concluded his presentation by stating that Corona virus is going to be with us for a long time. We will need to follow SOPs. Understanding of this disease will keep on evolving. We will see digital transformation but we must ensure that digital education is introduced gradually. For all this major curriculum reforms will be needed.

Later answering to a question from Dr. Ahsan Sethi from Pakistan who had asked can we say it reforms as we have yet to see its results, Dr. Gohar Wajid said, we have seen reforms on structural level. It is at present difficult to say how they are going to impact in outcome. For this evaluation tools are needed. Responding to a question from Prof. Gibbs who pointed out that after COVID19 pandemic, primary healthcare has become digital and it has destroyed the primary healthcare system, Dr. Gohar Wajid said, we might have to come back to Family Medicine with face to face interaction between the healthcare professionals and the patients. Prof. Gibbs further stated that what is good for one country may not be useful for other country. Dr. Gohar Wajid agreed that primary health care was the basic issue in Pakistan. Government of Pakistan has made good progress. Family Medicine is the cornerstone of Sustainable Developmental Goals initiated by WHO.

Dr. Faiz Ali Shah from Pakistan asked what he felt will be the percentage of online education compared to face to face education in the days to come in view of Covid19 pandemic. Dr. Gohar Wajid said it is difficult to predict it at present. We have to first decide the competencies and give some role to advanced medical colleges while grouping others. Dr. Salman Sheikh raised the issue of equity, role and responsibilities of the government and cost of medical education. Dr. Gohar Wajid felt that these are all very important issues and autonomy of the medical profession should also be looked into by the Pakistan Medical Commission. The session was moderated by Komal Atta and it proved to be quite useful and informative for the participants.

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