off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Almost Free education in
public sector 
and Dental Colleges


There is a mad rush to get admission in medical and dental colleges with the result that we now see mushroom growth of medical and dental colleges in the country during the last few years. Even the Governments in different provinces have also established more medical and dental colleges in the public sector affiliating them with the existing District Headquarters Hospitals. Army establishments has also joined in and now we see numerous medical colleges which have been established affiliated with the various Combined Military Hospitals in the country.

A student getting admission in a private medical and dental college spends almost about fifty to sixty lacs of rupees to qualify. After spending such a huge amount, their first preference will naturally be to recover this money which their parents have invested on them, hence the temptation to indulge in unethical medical practice. It will be interesting to note if someone undertook research on this important aspect of medical practice by those who study in private medical and dental colleges compared with those who had the opportunity to get admission to public sector medical and dental institutions.

On the other hand, those who are lucky to get admitted in medical and dental colleges in public sector pay a very nominal fee and it is almost free education for them.  They should realize its importance and must be thankful to the Nation in general and the sitting Governments in particular for providing them these facilities as it is the Nation which pays for their education.  However, instead of being grateful to the Nation and the Government, these fresh medical and dental graduates soon after qualifying start agitation asking for more remuneration and facilities. Pakistan is a country where no one wishes to pay Income Tax but wants the Governments to provide them all the facilities. Whenever the government has tried to increase the Tax Base by including the Non-Filers, they also resort to agitation, strikes and try to blackmail the government. This drama and Tamasha must come to an end if we have to survive as a respectful, dignified Nation and we all must pay the Taxes under the law and refrain from agitations and resorting to violence. Unfortunately, these elements then also get encouragement and support of disgruntled politicians who have no principles and their only objective is to create problems for the Government of the day. Little do they realize that tomorrow they may be in Government themselves and then what will they do when they will be faced with a similar situaon?  Politicians must have some principles and they should join hands and agree on some important issues like economic policies and taxation etc., and desist from indulging in negative politics.

Since the private medical and dental colleges charge enormous Tuition Fees they have a tendency not to fail the students with the result that their pass percentage is much higher despite the fact that some of these institutions do not have proper teaching hospitals and faculty to teach and train. Hence, the quality of teaching and training leaves much to be desired. Some of the newly established medical and dental colleges both in public and private sector are faced with acute shortage of faculty particularly so in the basic sciences but the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council has not taken any action against them forcing them to make up these deficiencies.

Coming to the public sector medical and dental colleges, the fresh medical and dental graduates are most often seen involved in agitational politics. There have been numerous incidents when they have even misbehaved with the senior faculty members. Even there have been instances when some of these groups are reported to have started selling House Jobs and induction as postgraduates by taking donations to the tune of fifty to sixty thousand rupees and then blackmailing the administration of the institutions including senior faculty members. It was in this background that the Punjab Government some time ago decided to centralize the selection of House Officers as well as induction of Postgraduates on training jobs. This new move is now also being resisted by the young doctors but they forget the fact that it was their own behaviour which forced the government to take such a step. The government should return the powers of selection of House Officers and Postgraduates to the respective institutions but at the same time it must ensure that decisions are made on merit and merit alone without any coercion or blackmail by any group of vested interests. For this the administration of these institutions and the senior faculty will need the Government’s support so that they do not come under undue pressure where they have to compromise on merit.

In the good old days there used to be few House Officers and a few postgraduates in a Ward of forty to fifty beds and they used to work hard till late in the evening with the result that they got much better training. They used to respect their seniors who used to take personal interest in their teaching and training. Now at times there is an army of House Officers and Postgraduates and their number put together is almost equal to the patients admitted in the Ward, hence what will they learn in such an overcrowded environment?  Not only that but when some members of this new generation of medical profession will not show any respect to their seniors, how they can expect the teachers to teach them with devotion and dedication? In fact these are some of the issues which has brought a bad name to the medical profession and doctors today do not enjoy the same dignity, respect and status in the society.

 It was heartening to note that at the MID YEAR DOCTORSCON 2016 organized by Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians, some of the speakers and their leadership in particular had stated that sincere efforts need to be made to bring back dignity and respect to the medical profession and steps should be initiated to regain this lost glory, dignity, respect which the medical profession once enjoyed in the public. They also called upon working out a mechanism of self-monitoring and accountability by the medical profession, because failure to do that will result in someone else doing this. These saner elements within the medical profession needs to be strengthened and their realistic views must be appreciated and commended. We also hope that the young doctors will also learn some lessons, improve their attitude, behaviour so that medicine remains a Noble profession and does not become a Trade and Business towards which it is fast slipping.

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