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September 21, 2019

‘Sindh to protest if students from other provinces allowedadmissions in its private medical colleges’


September 21, 2019

Fearing an acute shortage of doctors in Sindh if students from other provinces are allowed to take admissions in the private medical colleges of the province, provincial health minister Dr Azra Pechuho said on Friday they would strongly protest against “this unconstitutional policy” of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).

“We have learnt that the PMDC has revoked the condition of domicile for admissions into private medical colleges in the country. If this is allowed to happen, we fear that it would deprive thousands of students from Sindh of the opportunity to get medical education in their own provincial medical colleges. This policy is against our students and we would strongly protest against its implementation,” Dr Azra Pechuho said during a press conference at a local hotel on Friday.

The vice chancellors of Sindh’s medical universities, including the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) and Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU), have also opposed the new admission policy announced by the PMDC in its recent letter to the vice chancellors of all the medical varsities in the province, saying no such decision had been taken or given approval to by the last meeting of the PMDC.

At the same time, various bodies, including the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and medical varsities in Sindh, have also criticised the constitution of an advisory committee by State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza to look after the affairs of the PMDC, arguing that state health minister had no authority to constitute any such committee, which also lacked any representative from any public medical varsity of the province.

But Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho maintained that never in the history had the restriction of domicile for admissions in the medical colleges been lifted. She added that if it happened, Sindh and Balochistan provinces would badly suffer and students from two other provinces would be dominating at their private medical colleges and would return to their provinces after getting medical education.

“I want to make one thing very clear that we are not against students from other provinces, but we don’t want our students to suffer due to this policy. Once all our students who fulfil the criteria get the admissions into the medical colleges, we have no objection to accommodating students from other provinces,” she maintained.

According to provincial health authorities, Sindh is already facing an acute shortage of doctors as the majority of doctors are women, most of whom don’t join the profession while many don’t want to be posted away from their homes or in other cities of the province.

On the other hand, most of the male doctors also leave the country for greener pastures abroad while a sizeable number of them don’t join the government service and try to keep practising in major cities, causing an immense shortage of doctors in the rural areas of the province.

FP2020 targets

Earlier, at a press briefing after chairing the Sindh FP2020 working group meeting where the current updates of the Costed Implementation Plan for Family Planning in Sindh were discussed, Dr Azra Pechuho claimed that Sindh was the best-performing province in achieving the FP2020 targets, and this fact was even acknowledged by the working group comprising international experts.

She said the meeting was attended by the FP2020 International delegation led by Martyn Philip Smith, Managing Director FP2020 International, Secretary Population Welfare Sindh, representatives of Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation and other partner organizations. She added that Sindh was to be among the first places to develop a Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) to help ensure we achieve our provincial FP2020 commitments.

While having a CIP does not guarantee success, it helps us stay on track and move forward in the right direction, she added.

Pakistan’s population according to the 2017 census is 207.8 million out of which 47.8 million population resides in the province of Sindh. The population growth rate of the country is 2.4 percent which is higher than other countries in the region.

In 2012 London Summit, Pakistan made a commitment to increase its Contraceptive Prevalence rate (CPR) and Sindh was the first one to implement its Costed Implementation Plan (CIP). Since then the fertility rate has declined from 3.8 percent to 3.6 percent in Sindh. Under CIP, Sindh’s goal is to achieve 45 percent Contraceptive Prevalence Rate by December 2020. The Current CPR of Sindh till September 2019 is 30 percent.

During this meeting, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said: “In Sindh, we have been able to capitalise on contextual and political factors that have allowed family planning to take hold in the province. Sindh’s strong political commitments, its partnerships, and its institutional mechanisms create an environment for reforms and achievements in family planning. While we still face challenges in our family planning program, we are proud of how local ownership and committed leadership have been instrumental in achieving our successes.”

Martyn Philip Smith, Managing Director FP2020 International, said: “As per global commitment, the target 69 countries including Pakistan are supposed to aid 120 million additional users of contraceptives. The gap over the period has narrowed down and since we are close to 2020 there is a serious consideration on agenda beyond 2020.”

“In Pakistan, I have met with the Federal Special Assistant to PM, Secretaries of Health and Population at federal and provincial level. I also attended the country engagement working group meeting in Lahore on September 18th and I have found that there is a lot of work being done in Pakistan specially in Sindh and it makes me very happy that Sindh is far ahead than any other province to reach its goal,” he added.

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