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By now Surgeon Rehman must have identified “Brotherene Yousuf ” among HCPs, Bureaucracy and the Politicians

Despite having fulfilled all the requirements RMIcontinues
to await grant of a University Charter

By Shaukat Ali Jawaid

PESHAWAR: Surgeon M. Rehman is an eminent cardiac surgeon of Pakistan whose contributions to promote the discipline of cardiac surgery are enormous. On return from abroad, he started his professional career as Cardiac Surgeon at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) Karachi the mother institution of cardiac institutions in Pakistan. He has trained numerous cardiac surgeons and once this specialty was well established with internationally acceptable mortality, he also started doing cardiac surgery at Orthopedic Medical Institute commonly known as OMI established by late Prof. Surgeon M. Rahim an eminent orthopedic surgeon of Pakistan. OMI was the first private hospital which was fully equipped and had the trained staff to start cardiac surgery programme. Thanks to Surgeon Rehman that it had a well-established cardiac surgery set up. Once Air Martial Daudpota visited OMI and when he was told that cardiac surgery was being performed here with excellent results, he said in future no PIA patient will be sent abroad for cardiac surgery since now these facilities are available in the country. This helped a lot to strengthen and develop cardiac surgery facilities in the private sector as well.

Prof. Muhammad Rehman

When Prof. Col. M. A. Cheema wanted to start cardiac surgery programme at Punjab Institute of Cardiology at Lahore, he requested Surgeon Rehman for help and assistance. Prof. Surgeon Rehman trained the perfusionists, technicians and nursing staff of PIC at NICVD which played a vital role in starting a successful cardiac surgery programme at PIC Lahore. Prof. Col. Cheema in his book “Dil Darya” has acknowledged this that the help, assistance and encouragement provided by Surgeon Rehman enabled him to start this programme at PIC.

There was a time patient from all over the country used to come to NICVD Karachi for cardiac surgery. Surgeon Rehman thought of providing this facility at Peshawar, hence initiated constructing Rehman Medical Institute at Peshawar. It took many years and once it was completed, it emerged as one of the best, state of the art healthcare facility. It needed lot of courage to make so much investment at that time in Peshawar to establish such a tertiary care facility. Now in the same area in Hayatabad, few more major hospitals have been established. Surgeon Rehman’s initiative encouraged others to set us such sophisticated hospitals. Once it is said, Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi the then Chief Minister visited Rehman Medical Institute, was immensely impressed with the facilities. He suggested that Surgeon Rehman should buy the vacant plot in front of RMI because in future he may wish to establish a medical college as well. Surgeon Rehman said he does not have the funds. The Chief Minister promised to recover the price of the plot in installment, hence Surgeon Rehman acquired that plot as well on which now a magnificent Medical, Dental College building has been constructed which is part of the RMI Medical Complex.

With the passage of time numerous other institutions apart from Medical and Dental College, Nursing Institute, Allied Health Sciences were established. Admission to the medical and dental college were given strictly on merit which did annoy many politicians and bureaucrats whose children or relatives could not manage to get admission. Surgeon Rehman acquired the services of most competent well trained and experience faculty, paid them well and set new standards not only in teaching and training but also patient care. The specialized nursing staff and technicians who were trained at RMI, many of them later got very lucrative jobs at the public sector medical institutions. RMI has an excellent research programme, publishes a medical and a dental journal besides a journal of the medical students. At a recently held Dental Health Research Conference organized by Rehman Dental College, the KPK Chief Minister as well as the President of Pakistan paid him rich tributes and in recognition of his services, he was also presented Life Time Achievement Award. At present there are numerous medical, dental and nursing, allied health institutions functioning at RMI and it has fulfilled all the requirements before applying for a University charter. Its case is still pending for the last many years and despite best efforts, RMI still continues to wait for the University Charter.
By now Surgeon Rehman must have identified his “Brotherene Yousuf” among the healthcare professionals, bureaucracy and the politicians who are opposing or creating hurdles so that RMI could not get University Charter. It is against the interest of KPK. Other provinces have numerous medical universities and it is high time that KPK should also establish and encourage the private sector by granting the University Charter to those institutions which have the desired facilities. Some of those who opposed this in the beginning might have done it in good faith to maintain uniform standard of medical education in the province but time has proved that it is no longer in the interest of the medical profession, people of KPK. It is also not in the interest of Khyber Medical University because in the absence of any competition, it will retard its future growth and development.

As is well known in the public sector politicians cannot afford to appoint Vice Chancellors and other heads of medical institutions on merit and if somehow it happens, there is so much political interfencence that the institution heads cannot work with concentration due to various reasons. Many talented faculty members who could have been absorbed by private medical universities are leaving for lucrative jobs overseas. Private universities run more efficiently because of constant monitoring and accountability while in public sector the Vice Chancellors and other medical institutions heads are most of time busy in keeping the politicians and bureaucrats happy which results in induction of lowly qualified, ill-trained staff. Apart from the certain politicians and members of the bureaucracy, some healthcare professionals are also part of this conspiracy to see that no new medical university is established in the private sector. In fact, the KPK Government should itself take the initiative and establish one such university in Abbottabad upgrading the status of Ayub Medical College. Other provinces took this initiative and it has been appreciated by all. No one can stop the change taking place, it does come hence it is better to be a part of such a change rather than joining those who oppose such progressive steps. Sooner or later the KPK will be forced to take such a decision.

It may be mentioned here that when Prof. Manzoor the then Principal of Khyber Medical College approached Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto requesting for a university charter for KMC, she agreed even the Chairman of the then University Grants Commission promised funds for this project but the move was opposed by the faculty of Khyber Medical College some of whom had lot of professional jealousy. Hence Khyber Medical College could not become the first Medical University of Pakistan. Prof. Jan Muhammad Memon Principal of Liaquat Medical College took the initiative requested Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who agreed, the faculty and academic council of LMC fully supported the proposal, hence Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences became the first medical university to be established in the public sector, the credit which Khyber Medical College could have earned but could not. Later numerous medical universities have been established in all over the country in Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan.

Late Prof. M. Kabir the noted surgeon and former Principal of Khyber Medical College was very intelligent and after retirement he utilized all his contacts in the bureaucracy, among the politician and was able to get a University Charter for his institution. Since then no one else has been successful so far. Case of RMI and one or two other institutions have been lying with the Government of KPK, the proposal, it is learnt, has also been discussed in the Cabinet but no final decision has as yet been taken. Besides providing state of the art healthcare facilities, excellent teaching and training facilities at various institutions which are part and affiliated with RMI, Surgeon Rehman has also provided job opportunities to over two thousand five hundred people including senior faculty members, nursing, allied healthcare professionals and general staff. People of KPK and the Government of KPK in particular should be grateful to Surgeon Rehman for having taken the initiative to make such a hug investment and establish state of the art healthcare facility with then encouraged many others to set up most modern well equipped hospitals in the province. Surgeon Rehman is perhaps still hopeful that one day those at the helm of affairs and in the power corridors will realize the importance of granting university charter to RMI and other institutions who deserve it. After all they are supplementing government efforts to provide teaching, training and healthcare facilities.

I remember while speaking at a conference, late Lt. Gen. Fazle Haq said that they do not want to remain dependent on other provinces for postgraduate training hence we have decided to have our own Postgraduate Medical Institute at Lady Reading Hospital. While at tea, I asked him “General Sahib, are you going to make the same mistake which Government of Punjab made”, he said what was that. I told him that they did not have separate cadre PGMI hence whenever any professor was transferred outside Lahore, he or she would manage to get posted at PGMI only to return to a medical college in Lahore when a post became vacant. Hence, it became a transit camp with the result its faculty had no loyalty with this institution and it could never progress and prosper as a postgraduate medical institution. Gen. Fazle Haq was a very intelligent person, he got the message. When the Government of KPK established Postgraduate Medical Institute at Lady Reading Hospital, the faculty was given the option to opt either for PGMI which will have a separate cadre or go to Khyber Medical College. Most of the senior faculty did not like it and opted for undergraduate medical college for reasons which are not difficult to understand and the junior faculty remained at LRH. However, with the passage of time it progressed and prospered and successfully established its own identity as a postgraduate medical institution. It just goes to show that right decisions taken at the right time offers lot of dividends. KPK certainly needs people who have foresight and vision to take decisions in the health sector which are in the greater interest of medical profession as well as people of the province.


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