Pakistan News

Explain gravity of PMDC issue to PM, SC tells AG

Explain gravity of PMDC issue to PM, SC tells AG

ISLAMABAD: Dismayed by the way the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) is being run, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt to convey to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the gravity of the situation and find a solution.

“Talk to the chief executive of the country and explain to him the grave situation and then inform the court about the steps being taken to end the problem,” observed Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Jawwad S. Khawaja.

The court was hearing a case regarding the absence of a law to regulate the functioning of the PMDC, which licences and authorises both medical colleges and all medical practitioners.

Also read: PMDC increases tuition fees of private colleges

The AG said that he would get back to the court after receiving instructions, but explained that legislation to fix the issue at hand was ready and that a new council could be appointed immediately once the fresh law was passed.

The court noted that the PMDC executive council, consisting of 35 members, stood dissolved on March 20, 2014, after promulgation of a presidential ordinance called the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2014. The dissolution of the council created a vacuum and an attempt was made by the government to constitute a management committee to run the affairs of the PMDC.

Consequently, the ordinance was tabled before parliament, but was disapproved by the Senate on April 23, 2014.

As a result, uncertainty prevailed with regard to regulation of medical colleges and the award of degrees to medical students, the court noted.

The court was appalled by the way the government was ignoring the vacuum that had existed at the PMDC for 18 months now. This was obvious on Tuesday when two individuals, Dr Shaista Faisal and Dr Ahmed Nadeem Akbar, appeared before the court and claimed to be the sole PMDC registrar.

The situation worsened on Wednesday, when Health Secretary Mohammad Ayub Sheikh could not offer satisfactory answers to the bench’s questions.

When the secretary said that it was up to the minister to decide, the chief justice cautioned the secretary and reminded him that under the rules of business, the secretary was the government and not the minister.

The secretary, however, said even if a new ordinance was promulgated, it would meet the same fate.

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General Dr Mirza Ali Azhar then lamented that the association was very concerned about the way PMDC’s affairs were being run by “illegally-elected people”.

“If [such state of affairs] persists, this profession is going to die,” Dr Azhar said, adding that despite repeated attempts the NHS was not communicating with the PMA.

Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, a member of the bench, asked the secretary how he would satisfy teams from the auditor-general’s office if they asked why two registrars were being paid by the PMDC.

“It is unfortunate that even the provinces have allowed NHS to make laws for them,” Justice Khan regretted.

The CJP made his displeasure quite clear, saying that he felt perturbed that Pakistan did not even have an undisputed medical regulatory body. “How can those responsible [for this] even sleep at night,” he wondered.

The court said it would ensure that this state of affairs did not persist and postponed further proceedings until Thursday.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2015

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