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March 7, 2021

‘Below-merit students can’t be allowed to become doctors just because they’re rich’

Karachi

March 7, 2021

The Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) said on Saturday that it can’t allow below-merit students to gain admission to medical colleges and become medical professionals on the basis of their parents’ wealth, and announced establishing a fund for meritorious students who can’t afford medical education.

“Around 8,000 students of Sindh secured over 60 per cent marks in the recently held Medical & Dental College Admission Test [MDCAT], but they weren’t able to gain admission to private medical colleges because their parents couldn’t afford it,” PMC President Dr Arshad Taqi told a webinar.

“Now we’re being asked to allow admission to those students who were below-merit, just to fill the seats of private medical colleges, which is unacceptable to us!”

Organised by the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (Pima), the online seminar titled ‘Pakistan Medical Commission: Apprehensions and Expectations’ was second in the series on the issue of the establishment and functioning of the PMC.

The webinar was addressed by vice chancellors of medical universities, principals of medical and dental colleges, and senior medical professors and professionals from all over the country.

Dr Taqi said they have decided to establish a fund for meritorious students, and asked the federal and provincial governments, philanthropists and other segments of society to contribute to that fund so that intelligent students who qualify for medical education but can’t afford it can gain admission to medical colleges and become quality medical professionals.

“And why are dental colleges not getting students? In the past, we assured medical colleges that we would fill all their seats, so all those students who couldn’t gain admission to medical colleges used to be sent to dental colleges. Ironically, 50 per cent of the graduates of dental colleges don’t come to the PMC for their licences.”

He said that good, intelligent children of Sindh have already gained admission to medical colleges, adding that something should be done for those who couldn’t gain admission despite clearing MDCAT. “We should be forcing provincial governments, society and everyone to support these students so they can get a medical education and then become quality medical professionals.”

Seeking suggestions

On the suggestion of Jinnah Sindh Medical University Vice Chancellor Prof Tariq Rafi, Dr Taqi said they are ready to write to all 162 medical colleges and universities to seek their suggestions, recommendations and apprehensions on various issues, and the steps taken by the health regulator, adding that they are also willing to initiate a dialogue with them to improve the regulatory process.

Pima’s Dr Abdullah Muttaqi, an eminent surgeon who also moderated the online seminar, offered the association’s services for hosting a meeting in Islamabad between PMC officials and the vice chancellors and principals of public and private medical colleges and universities in the second week of April, adding that they would also hold a series of dialogue and webinars to address their issues.

Earlier, Prof Rafi had expressed apprehensions on the various steps taken by the PMC, saying that there was no representation of Sindh in the commission, which was not an elected body and had four of its members, including its vice president, belonging to non-medical professions.

“Look at the compositions of other professional councils, including the Pakistan Engineering Council and the Pakistan Bar Council. They don’t allow non-professionals to run these bodies,” he pointed out.

“Similarly, there’s no representation of any public medical college or university in the PMC,” he said, and called for taking all the stakeholders into confidence before deciding any policy for the medical profession in the country.

The webinar was also addressed by PMC medical member Dr Rumina Hasan, King Edward Medical University Vice Chancellor Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, Fatima Jinnah Medical University Vice Chancellor Prof Aamer Zaman and Jinnah Medical & Dental College Principal Prof Hussain Mehdi.

Pima’s Central President Dr Khubaib Shahid, Sindh President Dr Fasih Hashmi and Karachi President Prof Azeemuddin, as well as the Shifa Tameer-e-Millat Medical University’s Prof Muhammad Iqbal Khan and Peshawar Medical College Dean Prof Hafeez-ur-Rehman also spoke and called for continuing dialogue with the PMC office-bearers.