off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

PM&DC is once
again in the news



It is extremely painful and unfortunate to see that the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council, the institution which is supposed to regulate the practice of medicine and medical education in Pakistan is once again in the news, both print as well as electronic media, not for any good reason. But sadly enough because of alleged corruption. Stories, rumors and allegations about rampant corruption in the PM&DC have been making rounds now for the last many years but till such time they are proved in a court of law, they will remain allegations and it will be unfair to point any finger. However, the latest case which relates to the “death of a Dr. Zubair Khan who died after being injected with some drug at a hospital in Rawalpindi where he was taken by the suspects who had earlier received 1.9 Million rupees from his family to pass him in the PM&DC Exam and issue him a practicing license” is a very serious one which must be properly investigated by the FIA and other agencies.

According to a report appearing in Daily DAWN of July 8, 2015, “Dr. Zubair returned to Pakistan last year after his graduation from China and wanted to get a practicing license by clearing the PM&DC test.  A certain Doctor asked him to pay Rs. 1.5 Million to achieve success in the Exam and get the practicing license. His father who has now lodged an FIR against the PM&DC officials told police that he along with two of his sons met some PM&DC officials and paid them the money they had asked for.  But a few days later a group of PM&DC officials met Dr. Zubair and asked for Rs. 400,000/- (four lacs) more and threatened him if he informed anyone about the exchange of money. Dr. Zubair eventually paid the money but somehow he was taken out to a hospital where he died after being injected with some drug”. The FIR  has been registered on Court’s order against the PM&DC Chief and three others while two more names are said to be involved in this case.

Earlier there have been allegations regarding exchange of millions of rupees for granting recognition to medical and dental colleges as well as for increase in the number of students they have been allowed to admit but nothing has yet been proved in a Court of Law. Even otherwise it is not easy to prove such allegations since the money transactions take place not directly but through the Front Men or Agents.

According to another report   there has been “allegation of maladministration and serious distortion in the results of National Examination Board (NEB) Examination held in February 2015. The Registrar of the PM&DC is said  to have ordered an enquiry when it was complained that  some candidates were shown as passed who did not even sit for the Examination whereas other candidates were shown as absent who had proof of their taking the examination. Instead of holding an enquiry at the PM&DC level for such a serious matter, an in-house enquiry by the university authorities was deemed to be sufficient. Even this enquiry confirmed the allegation as reported in an official communication from the university (DUHS). Nevertheless a lenient view was taken by the authorities concerned and those responsible were let off after a mere warning. Vice Chancellor of the University who is also President of the PM&DC is reported to have taken both the decisions. Even after that the same university has again been asked to conduct the NEB examinations.” Had an exemplary punishment been given to those involved in this malpractice, the tragedy which has now taken place taking the life of a doctor might have been avoided?

This is a very serious matter again which must be investigated by the FIA or NAB. Not only that it is also in the interest of the DUHS to stop conducting examinations for foreign medical graduates  i.e. NEB Examination till an enquiry is completed since the  credibility of the examination conducted by it has become questionable. This exam should be shifted to either University of Health Sciences at Lahore or to Natinoal University of Science & Technology at Islamabad.

It is unfortunate that PM&DC has now emerged as one of the most politicized institution in the public sector.  Hence, it is essential that the decisions taken by the present Executive Committee which took over after the last disputed elections (in which seventeen members in person out of a total strength of eighty one attended while eight others are reported to have participated through Skype or Telephone though the prescribed quorum is one third of the membership) should be reviewed by an independent committee for validation.

In these very columns we have time and again suggested that the functioning of the PM&DC can never be improved unless its composition is changed. We follow the British Medical Education system. Britain realized over twenty years ago that medical profession cannot monitor itself; hence, the General Medial Council now has over 50% members who are non-doctors from lay public. These are the men with integrity without any blemish and it has improved the functioning of the GMC tremendously. However, we are not prepared to learn from history and our mistakes. Let the PM&DC be reconstituted with 50% members from public and ensure efficient functioning upholding merit and transparency.  No one who owns a medical or dental college should have any place in the PM&DC in a decision making body because it is against the principle of Conflict of Interest.

Sometime ago while hearing a case related to PM&DC, Islamabad High Court had formed a three member Commission on February 6, 2015 with terms of reference to submit its report. Findings of that Commission must be made public and the honourable members of the Judiciary one hopes through its decision might pave the way for reconstitution of the PM&DC and save it from total collapse. Developments in this case are being watched with interest by all the concerned healthcare professionals in Pakistan. Judiciary which remains the last hope, we are sure will not disappoint us.

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