- Foreign medical graduates to start protest in front of IPC on Thursday
ISLAMABAD: Despite the acute shortage of registered doctors in the country, around 3,000 Foreign Medical Graduates (FMG) are running from pillar to post for registration for the last three years due to alleged despotic and flawed approach of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).
Sources privy to the development told Pakistan Today that the PMDC virtually put the future of over 3,000 foreign medical graduates at stake for not conducting the mandatory registration examination for a long time.
They said that the authority had conducted the registration exam only once a year in clear violation of the set rules of the body. They said that as per 1962 ordinance, the registration examination shall be conducted twice a year as per schedule of examination announced by National Examination Board (NEB).
“There are three steps in registration examination, and taking such time in conducting examinations is quite discriminatory and unfortunate. It is meant to play with the future of young graduate doctors,” a senior official in PMDC told Pakistan Today.
The official said that there was a need to revisit the policy and the exam should be conducted at least thrice so that the precious time of doctors was not wasted.
“The graduates from China, Central Asian states and Russia are facing great difficulty to pass the examination mainly due to the language problem, while the passing percentage of those graduated from Bangladesh are satisfactory,” the official added.
Talking to Pakistan Today, FMG President Dr Shehryar Ahmed said that the PMDC unnecessarily delayed the exam due to which thousands of foreign graduates of qualified medical colleges were passing through a great ordeal.
“They charge almost Rs50,000 per exam from one student and the passing percentage is just 5 to 10 per cent because they are not allowed to pass more on the plea that our system can’t afford new doctors,” he said.
The frustrated doctor lamented that the Supreme Court had allowed substandard medical colleges’ graduates and quacks to practice in many famous hospitals, ruining the health system of the country, but the foreign medical graduates of reputed medical colleges were treated discriminately.
He stressed the need to change the system arguing that Chinese medical colleges cannot be declared substandard at a time when Pakistan is seeking Chinese support in almost in every field.
“If the standard of Chinese medical colleges is so low, PMDC should put a ban on Pakistani students to get admission in China, and categorically convey to Chinese ambassador not to allow students to China for medical education because their degrees are not acceptable in Pakistan due to poor education standard,” he added.
He said that though PMDC announced April 8 as the exam date under the Supreme Court’s order, it was less likely that the exam will be taken, wasting another year, because it was being done for last three years.
FMG wrote a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and demanded to take notice of what they called the non-serious behaviour of PMDC for conducting the examination, discrimination against foreign medical graduates and allowing quacks to practice while denying such opportunity to foreign qualified degree holders.
“It is stated that PMDC is responsible to register the Pakistani foreign medical graduates and it is conducting the registration exam (NEB) since the early 1990s which is just an excuse to collect millions from us in the form of eligibility fee, examination fee and the registration fee,” the letter said.
The letter further read, “PMDC promised to conduct the exam twice a year but they were still waiting for almost nine months since the last exam was conducted but nothing was announced by PMDC, forcing them to commit suicides (Dr Shoaib in 2018, Dr Zubair in 2015 and Dr Ilyas in 2013) due to the frustration of being jobless.”
“We are not allowed to work or even study or practice and are required to pass the NEB exam to be qualified for the medical practice in Pakistan, but malpractice by the private graduates and quacks is at its peak,” it added.
Minister for National Health Services Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar, even in a private TV talk show, accepted her ministry’s helplessness to rein in the PMDC and said that majority of the PMDC high-ups were those who had their own private medical colleges, which was a clear conflict of interest.
Despite repeated attempts, PMDC Chairman Justice (r) Shakirullah Jan and National Education Board (NEB) in-charge Dr Iqbal Khattak could not be reached for their comments on the issue, while PMDC Registrar Dr Waseem Hashmi’s phone was switched off.
The dejected foreign medical graduates are all set to start a protest in front of Islamabad Press Club (IPC) on Thursday.