PM&DC affairs become further complicated after alleged disputed, controversial elections

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PM&DC Act needs amendments to remove some congenital malformations

PM&DC affairs become further complicated
after alleged disputed, controversial elections

No former Executive Committee member should be eligible
to hold any office until cleared by an independent commission

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PM&DC) is again in the news for the last couple of weeks and after the recent disputed, controversial elections, its affairs have become further complicated. It is generally felt that if the PM&DC has to regain its lost image, prestige and credibility, no former member of the Executive Committee should be eligible to hold any office till they are cleared by an independent commission. Those who have created all this mess and have been part of the problem cannot be a part of the solution. The PM&DC Act also needs to be amended as it suffers from many congenital malformations as it was prepared by those who wanted to safeguard their own vested interests rather than taking care of national interests.
In the recent past one group of PM&DC members met former President Asif Zardari few days before his retirement while another group had a meeting with the Health Secretary and the Federal Health Minister and apprised her of the present state of affairs. They emphasized the importance of organizing transparent elections for the PM&DC, the demand which has also been supported by Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) as well as Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA). It looks rather strange that the former Registrar and other staff are being held responsible for all the alleged corrupt practices and it is essential to find out the role of the executive committee members. Either they were part of this corruption or they are incompetent and not capable of being given any responsibility to streamline the affairs of PM&DC. In the past too whenever, corruption scandals were unearthed, it was the Secretary who was punished and no office bearer was held responsible. An independent enquiry should be conducted in the conduct of the former executive committee members. It should be ascertained whether they supported all the decisions taken by the Council including recognition of newly established medical and dental colleges or did any one of them write a note of dissent and opposed what was going on. Those executive committee members, who are on record to have objected, protested and written a note of dissent regarding these alleged corrupt practices, can be eligible to contest elections and hold any office. However, it is well known that no official including Registrar of the Council can dare to take any decision, action without the patronage and blessing of the Executive Committee members and office bearers who are alleged to be hand in glove in all these corrupt practices.
In the disputed elections which the PM&DC organized at Islamabad recently, it is said that only a few members were present. As such Prof. Masood Hameed, should not have accepted this responsibility under such circumstances as it will affect his own credibility. It is important to find out that how many members are eligible to cast their votes, how many of them have been notified so far, why the nomination of others has been kept pending by the former executive committee members and for what reasons?. Was a proper notice for election issued and was it on the agenda or was it a deliberate plan to keep things pending till the last minute and then hurriedly elect office bearers making an excuse of the court directive which was issued a year ago? A detailed enquiry will expose the malicious intentions of those who were behind such a plan to maneuver the so called elections. Will they be able to hoodwink the Federal government in general and the Federal Health Minister in particular only time will tell. When the credibility of an institution which is supposed to monitor the healthcare professionals and the medical institutions and uphold professional ethics is itself questionable, how it can perform its functions satisfactorily and earn Nation’s confidence and trust what to talk of international credibility.
Issues concerning undergraduate as well as postgraduate medical education and training are too important to be left to the medial educationists alone. The situation will never improve unless the PM&DC is reconstituted. The maximum number of Council members should not be more than two dozen and its representation from various provinces can be worked out based on the number of undergraduate and postgraduate medical institutions in each province. Again atleast half of the membership should consist of non-medical people, drawn from Trusts and Foundations that are active in the field of education and health, with good track record and proven accomplishments but certainly not politicians. England from whom we have inherited the medical education system learnt this lesson many years ago that doctors alone cannot monitor the healthcare professionals satisfactorily. Hence now almost 50% membership of General Medical Council consists of non-medical members. We need to adopt a similar system. Let us learn from the experience of others and initiate meaningful reforms in the field of health and medical education.
Some of the functions of the PM&DC can also be decentralized strengthening and empowering the regional centers. The mushroom growth of medical and dental colleges needs to be checked and only those should be recognized which have the requisite teaching and training facilities, proper teaching hospital with required faculty. This is not an easy task and it can be done only by those who themselves are not owners of medical and dental colleges, or heading such institutions either in public or private sector. In the past they have been helping each other by recognizing their institutions despite serious shortcomings and allowing further increase in enrollment of students while blackmailing others particularly those in the private sector. Federal Government has remained silent so far and the time has come that it should come out of an indecisive phase and take appropriate measures to cleanse these bodies of medical politicians who are responsible for creating this mess in which the PM&DC finds itself today.