Medical profession must wake up before it is too late

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 Medical profession must
wake up before it is too late

It has already lost control of PM&DC because of incompetent,
dishonest and intellectually corrupt leadership it elected

ISLAMABAD: Medical profession must wake up before it is too late. It has already lost control of the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council which now in the interim set up is headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court simply because it elected incompetent, dishonest and intellectually corrupt leadership to run and manage the affairs of the council. It had been virtually converted in to Private Medical & Dental Colleges Council rather than the PM&DC. They took decisions to increase seats, admission fee, reduced the mandatory minimum requirements for faculty members and teaching, training facilities in some of the disciplines all meant to benefit the owners of the medical institutions.

What is more surprising is the fact that some of the executive committee members of the former PM&DC started medical and dental colleges without proper inspection and approval, some started postgraduates courses without any formal approval and now the students enrolled find themselves in a dilemma. The situation is going to become worse in the days to come and in not too distant future, we will see some of these private medical and dental colleges will start closing down. Sustainability in the long run is not so easy and some of the owners of these institutions have started realizing this. Despite the fact that the new interim council and the owners of private medical and dental colleges have reached an agreement to increase the tuition fee and admission fee but still there are too many problems which needs to be resolved. However, those institutions who have proper campuses, are already well established with proper teaching and training facilities, faculty with sound financial resources will be able to survive.

Members of the medical profession themselves are to be blamed for the present state of affairs. They did not pay any heed to start self-monitoring and accountability as suggested repeatedly hence now some outside agencies and people have started monitoring the profession and undertake its accountability. If today a senior consultant is being defamed, humiliated by some non-doctor and the medical profession at large remains silent thinking that it does not affect them, tomorrow it will be consultant B and C and then this humiliation campaign will go on and on thereby adversely affecting the overall image of the medical profession. When an orthopedic surgeon starts doing neurosurgery, the results are not difficult to imagine and that is what is happening these days. A non-doctor howsoever intelligent he or she may be, cannot understand the intricacies of medical practice, various surgical procedures, can never differentiate between various side effects, adverse effects of drugs, complications of surgical procedures, high risk cases for surgery and those which are going to have high mortality. If things go on like this, in the days to come the non-doctors who will monitor them will also suggest how many operations a surgeon has to do every day, how much time they should spend on one surgery, ensure no complications, how much to charge, when to call the patient for follow up, how long the patient should remain in hospital and when they can be discharged and so on for which these non-doctors are neither qualified and competent nor they are supposed to take such decisions. However, it is the members of the medical profession itself which asked for all this.

Looking at the malicious campaign being run by the print and electronic media against some distinguished well respected specialists, one feels that it will send a wrong message to those Pakistani doctors who intend to come back and serve their country while those already here will also pack up and go abroad. One must remember when army administrators were appointed in the medical institutions in the 60s, many distinguished medical teachers had resigned and left the country. Now even many young doctors might start having second thoughts whether to go for specialization lasting for six to eight years if at the end of the day, they will be defamed, humiliated. It will result in acute shortage of specialists particularly in those disciplines where mortality is very high and setting up practice like starting a transplant programme takes a couple of years to build, equip and train a multidisciplinary team. There is still time that the medical profession must wake up from their deep slumber and start looking at the emerging situation in its correct perspective. No one whosoever highly placed he or she may be, should be allowed to humiliate and defame the members of the medical profession without any proof of their misconduct, unethical practice or some criminal negligence but at the same time never forget the importance of medical errors, near misses, well known complications of the surgical procedures and adverse effects of medications. The ideal solution will be reconstitution of the PM&DC with the addition of some non-doctors known for their intellectual integrity and affiliated with medical and educational institutions (but not politicians) just like the General Medical Council of UK. Secondly the PM&DC must have a full time Chief Executive to run and manage the affairs of the council with the help of council members and if need be, the authorities should not hesitate to benefit from the advice and co-opt some members from inside and outside the medical profession for some specific purposes.

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