KARACHI: The Sindh government’s controversial decision to lower the pass percentage for the Medical and Dental College (MDCAT) admission test has raised valid questions about the effect the decision will have on the quality of medical education in the province.
The move, which the Pakistani Medical Commission (PMC) strongly opposed, could have dire consequences for students and patients, Bol News has learned.
The PMC reportedly accused the Sindh government of paving the way for admissions in exchange for money.
Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) has issued a public notice inviting applications for admission to private medical and dental colleges in Sindh. On January 6, PMC advised JSMU not to interfere with admissions to private medical and dental colleges.
He also warned all private medical and dental colleges against violating his admission criteria and said he directly conflicts with not only the Constitution of Pakistan, the Pakistan Medical Commission Act of 2020. and PMC regulations, but also the law as it is conclusively stated. by the Supreme Court and the High Court of Sind.
The letter to JSMU further stated: “Any attempt by JSMU to undertake such admissions as an agent of the private medical and dental colleges would be up to JSMU attempting to provide, albeit an illegal umbrella, to those colleges undertaking illegal admissions. by admitting students who have failed the MDCAT exam. Medical schools that violate the criteria of the PMC will be subject to their registration with the PMC terminated with immediate effect.
In addition, many experts believe that the Sindh government’s policy will lower the standards and quality of education, ultimately affecting patient care. Concern was especially expressed about reducing the pass rate for entrance to medical schools from 65% to 50pc, as proposed by the government of Sindh.
“The decision of the Sindh government to go against MDCAT policy and allow students to be admitted with 50pc marks in medical and dental schools is very regrettable.
“Cutting down on merit will lead to further destruction of the quality of education in the future. This is likely to play with human lives. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health and Education was commercialized, which resulted in the opening of many private medical centers. [and dental] colleges that do not even meet the conditions for enrollment.
“These colleges don’t have permanent professors to teach, nor do they have enough staff. A large number of non-standard medical and dental schools have been closed in the United States to improve the healthcare industry. To produce quality doctors in the country, there should be an increase in merit, ”said Chief Medical Officer Jaipal Chhabria.
“I just want to raise a question: why weren’t Sindh students able to achieve the required marks in MDCAT compared to other provinces?” Examinations and admissions should be organized according to a uniform policy across the country. How to give a doctor’s degree to a person who is not competent? After all, it is a matter of human life. The biggest loss in this whole thing is going to be for the patients, how can we consider human life to be less important? “Observed chief doctor and former professor Nadeem Rizvi
If the colleges allow admission in accordance with the policy of the Sindh government, their enrollment may be canceled. To counter this, the Sindh government is trying to form its own council. However, doctors approved by the Sindh Medical Council will have no recognition as soon as they cross the provincial border of Sindh.
In this dispute over admissions, not only students’ careers are at stake, but the country’s healthcare system as well. The dispute between the Sindh government and the federal government has upset applicants for admission to the province’s medical and dental schools, leaving the applicants and their parents uncertain.
Lower the standards
The PMC, which is run by the federal government, said that in order to be admitted to medical and dental schools across the country in the year 2021-2022, applicants must achieve 65 points on the exam. MDCAT 2021. Admission would be given under PMC’s uniform policy across the country. Last year the Sindh government opposed this policy, but this year it has taken further steps.
The Sindh government has categorically rejected the weighting criteria and policy. He said he would allow students to be admitted to medical and dental colleges across the province if they score 50pc on the 2021 MDCAT test.
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said the provincial cabinet decided to reduce the MDCAT minimum pass percentage from 65 to 50 to “save” students’ academic careers and also to avoid a shortage. of physicians in the province.
The health department, in a notification dated December 31, 2021, said: “The committee formed by the health department of the Sindh government is facilitating the admission of all private medical and dental universities / colleges in Sindh through the ‘Jinnah Sindh University of Medicine (public and private sector). “
Responding to a question on why a compromise was made on merit when it comes to the health and lives of the people, Sindh Parliamentary Secretary for Health Qasim Siraj Soomro said that 400 dental school seats remained vacant last year while the province’s medical schools were forced to offer admission to applicants from other provinces. He added: “According to the World Health Organization standard, there should be one doctor for every 350 hospital beds; but in Sindh, there is only one doctor for 3,500 patients. Meanwhile, students from other provinces will be returning home after graduation and the province will face a shortage of doctors. “
PMC, on the other hand, says: “Any student admitted without meeting the eligibility criteria will not be registered with PMC and will not be issued a license to practice in the country. An apparent medical or dental degree issued by a college where a student has not qualified the PMC MDCAT will therefore not be recognized in Pakistan and, therefore, will not be recognized internationally either.
To counter this policy of the PMC, the government of Sindh has already put on the table the resolution for the Autonomous Medical and Dental Council of Sindh. The Minister of Health said that provincial governments, under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, were empowered to adopt the admission policies of medical and dental schools, but that “the federal government had improperly interfered with this. case ”.
Commenting on the brawl, Lahore PMA President Prof. Ashraf Nizami said “it is unreasonable when the service profession begins to trade. The government of Sindh is forced to form its own council. This is what happens when decisions are not taken collectively. The lack of harmony between the provinces and the federation will cause irreparable damage to the health sector.
The PMC, while targeting the Sindh government, said the demand for a reduction in the MDCAT pass percentage represents the desire of a handful of private colleges who are only interested in filling their seats with students who can easily afford the high fees. of private education. . This is merit-independent and opens the door to the past practice of allowing some colleges to seek additional financial benefits for granting admissions to students below the required merit while still having the financial means to oust students. high merit students with inferior financial means.
Leaving aside their differences and quarrels, the two adversaries should reconsider the matter and find a solution in the wider interest of the students. The Sindh government should also consider whether it would be fair to reduce merit to this level.