Saturday October 16, 2021

Healthcare education: PMC digitisation ensures transparency

May 06, 2021

LAHORE:The digitisation of Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) offers ease of access to stakeholders and promises to regulate medical education and practice on the principles of merit, transparency and accountability in the country.

The PMC enforced stipulations on medical and dental tuition fees such as the disclosure of their entire fee structure for the programme prior to the admission cycle, which would be adhered to by the colleges for the duration of a student’s stay at a college. The PMC has taken action against 57 private medical and dental colleges involved in violation of various stipulations of the Admission Regulations (Amended) 2020, wherein gross misconduct was being committed to deprive deserving candidates of admissions on merit as well as to rip off students in the name unjustified fee structures. Previously, the private medical and dental colleges were involved in unlawful practice of charging exorbitant fees as well as hidden charges in the name of donations from affluent students enrolled out of merit.

As soon as PMC took charge, it immediately completed assessment of online complaints regarding admission processes of 69 private medical/dental colleges and took action to set a precedent to uphold merit and transparency,” says an official of PMC, which replaced Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PM&DC) in September last year as Pakistan’s premier regulatory body of medical/dental education in the country.

Talking to The News Pakistan Medical Commission President Dr Arshad Taqi said, “The healthcare is a profession like no other. The education is rigorous, the licensing requirements are methodical, and the ultimate responsibilities are paramount. As a regulator, we need to ensure that competence of individuals in this field is up to the mark, every step of the way. That is what the public expects of us, and that is exactly what we strive to deliver. Our people deserve nothing but the best standards of care the world has to offer.”

PMC has been launching maiden specialist registers in both medicine and dentistry to transparently list and recognise practitioners who have acquired the skills and competency to be recognised as specialists.

PMC’s online portal not just opens access to doctors, dentists, consultants, organisations, foreign and local students allowing them to apply or submit their documentation online, but provides Pakistani citizens a platform to verify or register complaints against practitioners, medical education or healthcare system in the country. The relevant stakeholders will have exclusive access to PMC’s online services through biometric verification to safeguard a healthcare practitioner’s digital profile and information.

In line with international standards and global best practices, PMC’s paperless framework will increase efficiency, reduce delays, minimise errors, curtail human-to-human interactions and ensure transparency based on benchmarks of excellence in healthcare education.

The centralisation of admissions and comprehensive review of every candidate will ensure admissions public and private medical and dental colleges on merit.The PMC conducted a national-level uniform Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) to offer level-playing field to candidates aspiring for admissions to medical and dental colleges on merit so that the future of students, who meet the prerequisites of merit but are not as affluent as others, would not be jeopardised.

Previously each province conducted their separate medical college entry tests (MDCAT) with different curriculums and examination structures. Thus, the results followed a different method in each province creating a pool of students not given equal opportunities in the entry tests and a varying merit standard. Consequently, deserving students missed out on the chance of medical or dental education.

The PMC, in its first year of formation, implemented the mandatory one standard medical and dental college entry test across Pakistan, giving every student an equal opportunity to compete for 19,662 seats in medical or dental colleges.

Talking to The News, PMC Vice-President Muhammad Ali Raza said, “As a medical and dental regulatory body, we are accountable for setting standards of excellence for the licensing of clinical practitioners as well as medical and dental education in Pakistan. Most importantly, however, we are accountable to the citizens of Pakistan. We can assure transparency and focused endeavour to achieve the ultimate objectives.