Crisis in medical education
Crisis gripped undergraduate medical education
15 Dec: The crisis that has gripped undergraduate medical education in the country is
as serious as it is deep-rooted. A great number of doctors that the system has
been churning out for the past many years are neither properly educated nor
The doctors are not to be blamed. It is the
system that is responsible for their poor skills.
policymakers, greedy owners of private medical colleges and a group of
professionals with vested interests are directly responsible for what passes as
the country's medical education and healthcare delivery system. Pressure from
civil society organisations could have made a difference, but they generally
don't want to waste their energies on an unglamorous topic like the health of
the poor masses.
Apparently for our politicians and military rulers,
medical colleges are mere buildings and faculty and training facilities are
minor issues. Successive governments have used medical education only as a tool
of political bribery. They have opened new colleges in the private and public
sectors and increased the number of seats in existing institutions without
considering the stipulations of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).
In the last few years they have upgraded even worthless medical colleges to the
status of medical universities.
The change of status in the PMDC in the
wake of the 1971 debacle spelled disaster for the regulatory body. A secretary
was appointed and he continued in office till Gen Pervez Musharraf grabbed power
in late 1999. One of the better things that came out of the general's tenure was
the arrest of this individual on charges of serious and prolonged financial
irregularities at the PMDC.
However, then came a federal health secretary
who along with a health minister and a few others set about causing almost
permanent damage to the cause of medical education in Pakistan by upgrading
medical colleges to the status of universities.
The new PMDC secretary,
meanwhile, had an embargo placed on the opening of any new medical college. With
his boss, the then PMDC president Prof Zafar Hayat, and the help of Council
members, he was partially successful in streamlining activity in medical
colleges but the death of Prof Hayat once again turned the tide against his
efforts. Because of the connivance of certain health department officials, the
PMDC was made impotent and the secretary ultimately removed.
hurdle thus crossed, the managements of medical colleges had a field day,
getting seats in their respective institutions increased even in the absence of
the required faculty both in terms of quality and quantity. With a part-time
faculty and without proper infrastructure, they soon became commercial centres
producing doctors with limited skills.
And then came the final nail in
the coffin when most of these facilities were upgraded to university status. The
sole purpose behind the move was to gain financial benefits that became
available after the Higher Education Commission (HEC) suddenly increased
The only medical institution deserving of the status was a
community-based facility in Karachi opened after a lengthy process of
professional planning at each stage of execution. All that the private
institutions learned from the example was that a new door had been opened for
minting money. Instead of bringing them in line with requirements, they were
awarded university status.
It started with Liaquat Medical College in
Hyderabad and it was only a matter of time before Punjab had one. And if
Hyderabad could have a medical university, how could Karachi be without one? So
it was time to get Dow Medical College upgraded. Then came another question: if
Sindh could have two universities, why couldn't Punjab? Sure enough, the balance
was restored with the elevation of the King Edward Medical College. And so the
twisted logic continued, throwing up medical universities at the drop of a hat
across the country.
The generals, politicians, faculty at medical
colleges and HEC academicians did not create these universities to improve
medical education; they joined hands to have more power, more funding and more
The universities, however ill-equipped, will never be demoted to the
status of colleges. What can still be done is to make them follow the relevant
rules and regulations which would gradually streamline their
There is an urgent need, for instance, to have a proper
full-time faculty associated with each of these universities, both in the
private and public sector. There is also the need to have a powerful, autonomous
and competent medical and dental council to monitor activity in the realms of
medical education and healthcare delivery.
Merit is an early casualty in
the current scheme of things. There is a need to turn things around. The
government should implement the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee
on Medical Education, and give autonomous status to the PMDC. Moreover, nothing
can be achieved if the government does not strictly follow the policy of merit
at all levels. A high-powered commission should be formed immediately to take a
holistic view of the state of undergraduate medical education today. The
findings of the committee will be enough to shock all. By Dr Shershah Syed (Dawn)
"Its interesting to learn about what is happening in Pakistan. I wish you every success."
Name: Anne Marie Cunningham
City, Country: Cardiff, UK
"I WANT TO SUGGEST THE HIGHER AUTHORITIES TO MAKE THE FINAL AGGREGATE FOR ADMISSIONS IN MEDICAL COLLEGES BY TAKING 50% OF EACH ENTRY TEST AND F.Sc MARKS BCZ SOME OF THE STUDENTS DO NOT SHOW GOOD RESULT IN F.Sc FOR CERTAIN REASONS BUT IN ACTUAL THEY HAVE THE CAPABILITY OF BECOMING DOCTOR.BUT WITH THIS TYPE OF MARKS CALCULATION THEY FAIL TO GAIN ADMISSION IN MEDICAL COLLEGES . PLZ TRY TO WORK WITH MY SUGGESTION. THINK THAT THE STUDENTS WHO ARE REALLY INTELLIGENT AND OBTAIN GOOD MARKS IN F.Sc HOW THEY NOT SHOW GOOD RESULT IN E.TEST.THIS THING DO NOT SUFFER A LOSS TO THEM BUT A NUMBER OF STUDENTS GET BENEFIT FROM IT.THANK YOU ."
Name: SOBIA HANIF
City, Country: Sangla Hill, PAKISTAN
"medical education has become a craze for 99% pakistani people. they thind other fields useless. in fact the value of science reading should be inhanced. so that our country may produce scientist instead of doctors. bv ."
City, Country: bhimber
"The private Medical colleges and universities in pakistan has very low education standard ,where any body can get admission with money but without knowledge.They are main reason of medical education decline,so it is kindly requested to Government of pakistan,OR PMDC please check it and cancel their registration."
Name: DR USMAN GANI
City, Country: KARACHI, PAKISTAN
"The Private Medical Universites of Pakistan have very low standard of education any body can get Admission with money so the Government of Pakistan take action against them."
Name: DR NARGIS
City, Country: PAKISTAN
"Medical profession is fast turning into buisness without prior set standard. The past glory and ehteical considerations are part of the past. whom to blame; capitalism? If anything is in order in this country so shall the medical education be.Imagine every body wants his kids to become doctors besides himself ............. "
Name: Dr Salim Khattak
City, Country: kohat, PAKISTAN
"I AM TOTTALLY AGAINST THE PRIVETE MEDICAL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITYES BECAUSE MY BROTHE GOT THE ADMISSION IN PRIVETE MEDICAL UNIVERSITY WITH LOW GRAD MARKS ALTHOUTH HE IS NOT ABLE TO ENROLE HIMSELF IN ANY UNIVERSITY PLEASE TAKE ACTION AGAINST THAT KIND OF THINGS "
Name: ATIF ALI
City, Country: karachi, PAKISTAN
"when i passed inter premedical with c grade so my father told me will you interested to get admission in private medical colleg so i said its nice for me with this grade so i got admission in priveted medical college where i lost five year without knowledge abut lost lot of money. "
Name: DR FARHAT KHAN
City, Country: karachi, PAKISTAN
"em going 2 reguest 2 equalize the merit of FSc and entry test.......marks of FSc never judge IQ level of students....actual judement should b on da basis of entry test.....there r many boards in pakistan and every board showed its own result.......this year unfortunately atd board da worrst result and in this way v people lose our marks bt still show gud performance in entry test...kindly total agregate shuld b made by takind 50 50% fsc and entry test........plzz consider tizz thing ....thanksss "
Name: sara ayaz
City, Country: ATD, PAKISTAN
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Tough time for TOEFL candidates
Lahore: The provision of comfortable environment to the candidates,
appearing in different tests, like TOEFL, is a responsibility of the tests
conducting bodies so that candidates may show their best
Some candidates, appearing for the Test of English as a
Foreign Language (TOEFL) at the exam centre of a local college on 13 Dec, faced
a lot of problems, which according to them, were caused by non-comfortable and
The language test, comprising sections like
reading, listening, speaking and writing, started at 11am, however, the students
got free around 7pm.
They not only suffered due to frequent power
outages but poor internet connection also added to their miseries since they
were attempting an Internet-based test, conducted by a foreign organisation, the
Educational Testing Service (ETS).
According to the ETS website, TOEFL is
offered only on the Internet in the country while in many other countries,
including Iran and Sri Lanka, the said test is also offered as a paper-based
test. The students planning to study abroad take the test as hundreds of
institutions accept its scores for admissions.
aggrieved students said it was a responsibility of the exam conducting body to
provide maximum facilities to the candidates. A student Shamyle Ghazali, who
attempted the said test on 13 Dec, said the foreign organisation had charged
$150 as fee from each candidate. However, the candidates faced great
inconvenience and the ongoing loadshedding and poor internet connection put the
candidates in trouble as the two-hour long test was completed in four hours. He
said such nuisance did affect the candidates' performance. He said the situation
could have been avoided if the authorities concerned had made arrangements,
keeping in view the prevailing power crisis in the country.
citizen said centres for such tests were set up at luxury hotels in the past by
the foreign bodies to provide a comfortable environment to the candidates,
adding that the cheap arrangements were certainly providing a good opportunity
to the service providers to mint the maximum money.
The academic circles
have also expressed concerns over the issue, saying that it is a right of
candidates to demand suitable arrangements for exams. They believe that since
candidates pay handsome amounts of money to foreign organisations, they should
be provided with the best environment.
This correspondent sent an email
to the ETS, Asia Pacific region, regarding the issue on email
(email@example.com) however, a failed delivery response was received.
Another email was sent to the ETS Global Division (firstname.lastname@example.org),
however, no reply was received till filing of this
report. -email@example.com (The News)
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