VC slots in three medical varsities

LAHORE:23 may: The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has declared more than 40 foreign medical degrees/diplomas of senior doctors “unregistered”, opening a new debate on criteria for the selection of heads of the public sector medical institutions in Punjab. The PMDC has also questioned the validity of the degrees after many of these were either found “unfamiliar” by the medical education regulatory body working on the matter or contradicted the claims by the candidates for the vice-chancellor slots in medical varsities of having Level-III qualification. The council, however, gave a clear message to the Punjab health authorities concerned as well as the medics, barring them from submitting the “unregistered degrees/diplomas” in future while contesting for the top slots at the public sector medical institutions, an official privy to the information told Dawn. He said the senior medics had been mentioning these degrees in their profiles and on the plaques at their clinics to present themselves as globally qualified professional. Most of these degrees were issued by renowned medical institutions of United States, England and some European countries, he said. The issue surfaced when the Punjab government asked the PMDC to determine the status of the medical degrees submitted by the 36 senior doctors from all over the country vying for the top slots of the three varsities in Lahore, the official said. He said it was for the first time that the Punjab government had approached the PMDC to get authenticity of the qualifications of the senior medics checked after it received a variety of degrees/diplomas issued by various international institutions submitted by the candidates. The Punjab government had sought applications for regular appointment of vice chancellors at University of Health Sciences, King Edward Medical University and the Fatima Jinnah Medical University, Lahore. He said most of the candidates had submitted five or more medical degrees/certificates of international institutions, creating confusion about their authenticity. Consequently, the PMDC was approached for the verification of these documents. It took PMDC one month to verify these degrees under “Regulations for the appointment of Faculty Professional Staff/Examiners/Principal/ Dean/ Administrative Staff in Undergraduate & Postgraduate medical & Dental Institutions of Pakistan 2011”. The council has recently sent a detailed report to the Punjab government declaring nomenclatures of the registered and unregistered degrees and the level of qualifications of the candidates. A copy of the report is also available with Dawn. According to the report, 36 candidates have deposited over 60 Pakistani and foreign medical degrees/diplomas which were examined by the PMDC on the request of the Punjab government. Most of the candidates had pitched their credentials as Level-III qualification (the actual requirement for the advertised positions), while submitting applications to the health department. However, of them nearly 40 were found to be “unregistered” with the PMDC, while many Pakistani postgraduate degrees (claimed by the candidates as Level- III) were found to be Level-II qualifications. According to the report, six candidates -- Prof Dr Mian Azhar Ahmad, Prof Dr Asima Malik, Prof Dr Sheerin Khawar, Prof Dr Nazifa Ahmad, Prof Dr Abdul Najeeb Khan, and Prof Dr Zafar H Tanvir -- claimed M.Phil as the Level-III qualification. As the Council has already declared the M.Phil as Level-II qualification, these six medics are likely to be dropped from the list of candidates. The higher postgraduate degrees, which have been declared Level- III qualification, included Doctor of Medicine (MD), Fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (FCPS), Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS), Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP), Master of Surgery (MS), DAB and PhD. The PMDC has made it clear that from now onwards only the senior doctors possessing these degrees, would be eligible for the top slots of medical institutions. A senior doctor who is also a candidate for VC slot alleged that the Punjab government had never formed search committees comprising experts from the concerned profession. He said the varsities were globally considered as institutes to create applicable knowledge through high impact research. “Astonishingly, Punjab government, while selecting vice chancellors, has been totally ignoring the research contribution of the applicants, whereas the federal Higher Education Commission requires more than 20 original research papers published in high-impact international journals before considering any applicant for the slot”, he said. He said it was evident from the procedure adopted by the Punjab government that the decision makers were neither qualified nor experienced to handle the job. “Ironically, the search committees formed for selection of VCs comprise ex-judges, bureaucrats, philanthropists or engineers”, he said. He lamented that no medical teacher of distinction or vice chancellor of any medical university had been included in any of the notified search committee. He added that the search committees constituted by federal HEC always included distinguished VCs and teachers with high qualifications.Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2017.

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