off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

CPSP’s representation
in National Bioethics



It is extremely painful to write about the incompetence and inefficiency of the College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) administration as regards its representation in the National Bioethics Committee. When the composition of NBC was being discussed before it was formed and a Gazette notification issued in 2004, during discussions among the founder members in a meeting held at Islamabad which was chaired by Maj.Gen. Dr. M.Aslam the then DG Health in FHM (now affiliated with Baqai Medical University) I proposed that College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan being an important institution should be given representation in the NBC. Prof. Zaufiqar Bhutta from AKU and Dr. Maqbool H. Jafary other founder members of NBC also supported this and it was thus decided that CPSP as well as the PM&DC another important organization will have representation in the NBC. Representation of PM&DC was also considered important because of its role in implementation of the guidelines proposed by the NBC. 

Prof. Zafar Ullah Chaudhry President of CPSP once attended NBC meeting and in fact chaired it in Islamabad. On other occasions CPSP was represented by Dr. Rizwana Chaudhry and Prof.Shoaib Shafi both councilors of CPSP from Rawalpindi-Islamabad. During the discussions the NBC membership felt that CPSP should be requested to nominate a permanent member in NBC so that he or she can not only regularly participate in the meeting but also make some positive contributions because if every time, there was some new representative, they were not aware of what was discussed in the earlier meetings. Then when the NBC held its meting at Aga Khan University at Karachi about a year ago, it was Prof.Rizwan Azmi who represented the CPSP and also made some useful contributions to the discussion. His suggestions were welcomed by the members and he was requested to get himself nominated from the CPSP so that he can attend the meetings regularly and CPSP’s representation will also be ensured. When another pre-NBC meeting was held at AKU few months later, we came to know that the President CPSP has nominated another Councilor from Rawalpindi who is also Principal of Army Medical College but he did not come to the meeting. In the most recent meeting which was first scheduled to be held at Lahore on December 28th but had to be shifted to Karachi due to weather and disruption in flight schedule, there was again no representation from the CPSP. Dr.Arif Munir who was coordinating the meeting from PMRC informed that he did talk to the CPSP nominated representative who was in Karachi only two days before and invited him to attend the meeting but he said, he was too busy, cannot stay in Karachi but would make sure that some one from the CPSP does come to the meeting. We kept waiting till the last minute but no one came to represent the CPSP nor was any message received. This shows the careless attitude of the CPSP administration. One gets the impression as if the CPSP is least interested in professional ethics and ensuring ethical medical practice. Councilors of the CPSP are supposed to bring glory to their institution but instead if they bring bad name, they are neither doing any service to themselves nor the institution they represent. Perhaps it was a mistake on the part of the President of CPSP to have nominated someone who is neither interested in the subject nor has time being too busy with too many other commitments heading an undergraduate medical college. We have often suggested to the CPSP administration to look beyond the 20-member council as there are thousands of Fellows and there are many who are not only interested in Medical Ethics but also keep on speaking on the subject at various forums. Why the CPSP cannot utilize their expertise and select any one of these fellows if the Council members have no time, is difficult to understand. Non-serious attitude of the CPSP administration regarding its active representation in NBC thus came under severe criticism in the NBC meeting. I have myself talked to the CPSP President Prof.Zafar Ullah Chaudhry on this issue on more than one occasions. Not only that I also talked to Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal and a few other councilors to make sure that CPSP is represented in the NBC but without any positive outcome so far.
Let me share with you another story in the same context. It was in 1994 that we the Medical Editors realized that postgraduates in general and faculty members in particular were not trained in the art of medical writing with the result that the quality of the manuscripts which the journals were receiving was not so good. So we decided to play our role. I was asked to take up the issue with the CPSP so that we can cooperate with them to train Master trainers from amongst the faculty members at various medical institutions in Medical Writing. Prof. M. Sultan Farooqui at that time had virtually taken control of running and managing the affairs of CPSP himself though he became President much later. I talk to him and we agreed that the Department of Medical Education will make arrangements and we will hold a series of workshops for master trainers. We promised to provide some of the facilitators without any obligation who along with some others expert in epidemiology and research identified by the CPSP will run these workshops. The objective was that once these master trainers are trained, they will go back and organize such workshops at their respective institutions not only for the faculty members but also undergraduates and postgraduates thus promoting the art of scientific publishing. We realized that it was lack of guidance in medial writing that most of the original research work done by the postgraduates in the form of Dissertations before appearing in the FCPS-II exam was not published.
Dr. Ehsanul Haque Chaudhry was the Director of Dept.of Medical Education in those days. We finalized a list of participants drawn from all over the country for the first workshop. They were all selected on merit and their potential to organize such workshops later on. After a few days, when I looked at the list, it was almost changed with only three members from the original list. I asked Dr.Ehsanul Haque Chaudhry what was all this to which he politely said that “He was just a post office. The list has been changed by Prof.Sultan Farooqui and he cannot do anything.” At this I told him that in that case I am not prepared to talk to the “Post Office” and would like to discuss the issue with Prof.Sultan Farooqui himself because it will not help us achieve our objective. When I talked to Prof.Sultan Farooqui, he said that they have some political compulsions and as such they have to accommodate some of their trusted friends. After detailed discussions, we agreed that they can nominate 50% of the participants as per their choice but at least 50% should be those who are selected on merit and based on their competence and ability irrespective of the fact whether they are Fellows of CPSP or not but were from amongst the faculty members. Hence the first workshop on “Research Methodology and Medical Writing” was successfully organized at CPSP in Karachi from January 29-31st 1995. The facilitators included Dr.Sarwar J. Zuberi Chief Editor JPMA, Dr. Syeda Kausar Ali,(CPSP) Prof. S. H. Zaidi from DMC, Dr. M.H.A. Baig Chief Editor Pakistan Journal of ORL, myself (Shaukat Ali Jawaid from Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences. We had suggested a very nominal fee for this workshop to cover the cost but later on the CPSP thought it can be a good source of income. Hence, they made it mandatory for all the postgraduates and also started charging them exorbitant fee which was against the spirit with which this academic activity was started. We the Editors who had offered our services in honorary capacity did not like it but it was the decision of the CPSP and they went ahead with it. We on our part continued to organize seminars, workshops not only on Research Methodology and Medical Writing but also Peer Review at different institutions, first from the platform of Pakistan Medical Journalists Association and then through its successor Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME).
About few years ago at a PAME meeting we discussed that despite the fact that all those who do FCPS have attended the compulsory workshops on Research Methodology and Medical Writing organized by CPSP but even then they were quite deficient as the manuscripts which various medical journals were receiving for publication had to be revised numerous times before they could be accepted for publication. I pointed it out to Prof. Zafar Ullah Chaudhry President of CPSP about three years ago and said they should look into it, may be the curriculum they were teaching needs some modification or the facilitators do not spend adequate time on medical writing or there may be some other reasons for the lack of interest among the participants who attend these workshops just to complete a formality to become eligible to sit in the Examination. President CPSP was very receptive and asked me why don’t you come and sit in the next workshop as an observer and give us your feed back. We will be too glad to make some changes, additions in the contents based on your input to which I agreed. He immediately rang up the department concerned and left instructions with the then Secretary of CPSP as well to this effect. A few days later I received a phone call from CPSP and the gentleman calling informed me that “You wanted to attend our workshop on Medical Writing but we have no space in this workshop now but they will be too glad to accommodate me in the next workshop”. That is the end of this episode.
More recently, at the 47th CPSP Convocation held at Karachi on December 26th 2013, all the four front rows of Sofas were vacant, Prof. S. H. Shafqat and Dr. Ehsanul Haque Chaudhry were the only two senior physicians present in the convocation. None of the institution head from Karachi or former Deans, Principals or retired professors were present. Where were the senior Fellows, Supervisors and Trainers of CPSP? Were they all too busy, did not get the invitation in time or because there have been too many holidays and people did not get time to attend or may be some of them are not happy with the CPSP. It will be interesting to find out by the CPSP administration but it was quite embarrassing to see all the front rows vacant and those sitting on the stage including President CPSP and the Chief Guest must have noted it. CPSP administration certainly needs to be strengthened. It may not be possible to run it efficiently through remote control for which they will have to Trust someone and give him powers as well.{jcomments on}

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