By Intsab Sahi
The Pakistan Medical Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, the statutory regulatory authority that oversaw medical and dental colleges in Pakistan, was dissolved following a presidential ordinance proclaimed on October 20. The PMDC dissolution has left many, including former PMDC employees in a state of shock and awe.
The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council was established under the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council Ordinance 1962, which will now be replaced by Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance 2019.
Following the issuance of ordinance on Sunday, PMDC’s offices were shut-down on Sunday in a coup like efficiency, which the government said was to ensure safety and security of the council’s records. In a press release that followed the closure of PMDC office in Islamabad, the Ministry of Information said the move was to “ensure the protection of essential records and assets of PMDC.”
Even though the Presidential Ordinance has the same force and effect as an act of Parliament under Article 73 clause (2) of the constitution, it shall stand repealed after 120 days of it coming into effect, if not approved by Parliament.
The PMDC dissolution and the subsequent issuance of the PMC Ordinance 2019 means that 220-employees of the council find themselves jobless, while medical students now face the prospect of having to sit the proposed National Licensing Examination (NLE) to practice as medical professionals upon completion of their MBBS or BDS degrees. But the more troubling aspect of the dissolution is that private medical institutions will now apparently have a free hand in governing their affairs.
A former member of the council told Academia Magazine on condition of anonymity that the new ordinance was a ruthless maneuver. “The ordinance absolves all private medical institutions of any responsibility towards regulatory statues. Earlier, the PMDC cupped the fee for private colleges and a certain standard of education and medical training had to be maintained. However, the new move appeases money-making mentality of private medical colleges,” he said.
The former council member added that private institutions had been trying to coerce the government to act in their favor for some time. “Meetings had been underway for some time now. However, due to strong opposition to the prior ordinance, the question of dissolution was kept at bay. Nonetheless, it must be remembered that the Presidential Ordinance does not take the opposition into account, for at least 120 days that is,” the former PMDC official said.
The news of PMDC dissolution also led to a major outcry on social media platforms such as Twitter, where it was among the top trending topics for a good portion of two days. Students and medical professionals took to Twitter and other social platforms to voice their concerns, with most discussions centered on the consequences and repercussions of sitting another exam.
Interestingly, the dissolution of PMDC is not the only official move being protested. Punjab is abuzz with protests from Grand Health Alliance and Young Doctors Association. The MTI Act has already become a thorn in the government’s side. Talking to Academia Magazine, YDA representatives said they were hoping for the government to take a stand on the MTI Act before they reveal the reasons behind the PMDC dissolution.
Strikes against many of the incumbent government’s decisions seem to be picking pick up momentum by the day. While the outcomes of the government’s moves remain unclear, one thing is all but certain: the medical fraternity is not planning to start supporting the government’s decisions anytime soon.