Medical and Dental Council Bill 2022: a good augury

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In the wake of strong demand from the stakeholders, i.e., Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), medical students, health practitioners and professionals, the passage of bill by National Assembly aimed at restoration of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), at a joint sitting of both houses of the Parliament, is a welcome step. The bills, on becoming act, will result in restoration of the PMDC while the Pakistan Medical Commissioner will stand dissolved after the passage of this act.

Credit goes to coalition government for giving this matter a priority and for targeting the controversial presidential Ordinance passed by the previous PTI government which had abolished the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and had established Pakistan Medical Commission through an Ordinance promulgated by President Arif Alvi in 2019 and which played havoc with the future of medical students during its two and half years of existence till now.

The Medical and Dental Council Bill 2022 reconstitute the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, was passed with thumping majority which shows the urgency of this Act.  One would definitely thank the NA for a job done well.

It may be recalled here that when the PMDC was replaced by the Pakistan Medical Commission through presidential ordinance, the later PMC played havoc with the heath sector, medical education and its exams procedure.

The National Medical and Dental Collages Admission Test 2021 conducted by the PMC turned to be so controversial and full of flaws that it drew country-wide protests and backlash from students aspiring for medical profession. The protests continued for almost two months and there were around half a dozen cases registered against the NMDCAT 2021 Test last year in various courts including the Islamabad High Court. The main objection of the students and professionals as also of the Pakistan Medial Association (PMA) was that the test was not transparent as it was marred by a number of controversies and the students were not given any proof of their answer sheet. It was a computer-based exam but the software prepared for the procedure was full of blunders and students reported disruption of the internet in exam centres as well during the exam hours. There were 62 different tests prepared for the students due to which the level of difficulty was not same. Some students got easy questions papers while others were subjected to rigorous and hard questions, also out of syllabus questions were reported, due to which a large number of brilliant students failed the exams while average students got passed.

Similarly, the students were also not provided the copies of their answer sheets due to which they were not satisfied with the results.

Not only this, the medical entrance test fee was raised from Rs. 500 to Rs. 6000 which also caused a lot of difficulty for the poor students. The irony is that this year again, the PMC has continued with the same procedure and same fee structure. Only the TEPS company which conducted the last year test has been done away with.

The registration for MDCAT 2022 is open and  Rs. 6000 is being charged per student. Again this year, the PMC has continued with the last year controversial method of computer-based tests which will spread over three weeks’ time with students appearing on different dates which means they will get different questions papers with the level of difficulty will be different  again and more lamentably students will again be denied any proof of their test as they will not be given any copy of their answer sheets.

However, with the restoration of PMDC, the students will be able to get rid of so many controversies, and the unfair functioning of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) will come into halt. Students demand that test should be conducted on same day and there should one test for all. They also demand the test to be conducted on paper and copies of answer sheet be given to them. These are sound demands and with the restoration of PMDC, they will definitely be met with.

To conclude one may express satisfaction over the passage of the above-mentioned Bill by the National Assembly as it will stop PMC to play with the future of the students aspiring for the noble profession and save the future of medical students and practitioners, who are running from pillar to post to get justice since the inception of PMC through Presidential Ordinance by the previous PTI government.

As a matter of fact, our doctors and health professional are second to none worldwide, and they have been played a pivotal role in the medical field the world over. America and the Gulf States are the top destination for our doctors where they are performing per excellence.

Our doctors also performed diligently without caring for their own lives, during the Corona pandemic as frontline workers. Out medical students are very industrious  and they must be given fair environment to work without any undue interference and discrimination by any authority so that they can concentrate on their studies which needs a lot of concentration as medical is not an easy study or a profession. It requires rigorous mental exercise and physical work to become doctor and then perform in a society where the disease onslaught has become unprecedented in nature.

Time has come to  protect the rights of medical students, practitioners and affected health staff, particularly those facing hardships due to the existence of the PMC, which has played havoc with the profession during its two and half years of existence.