The government has promulgated an ordinance for establishing a 17-member council for the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), which has been run by an ad-hoc council for a year.
However, the ordinance will have to pass through Senate and National Assembly within 120 days. In the instance of a delay, government will have to get an extension of another 120 days by passing a resolution from the National Assembly.
Opposition parties can repeal the ordinance by passing a resolution in Senate as they have a majority there.
According to a notification issued byPresident Dr Arif Alvi, available with Dawn, the PMDC Ordinance was signed and promulgated as per the advice of the prime minister.
A senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services, whose input was taken when preparing the draft of the ordinance, said the 17-member council will have representation from all provinces and that it will elect its president and vice-president.
The tenure of the council will be three years.
`Eight of the members will be from the provinces as they will nominate members for clinical and basic sciences, two from dentistry, two from private colleges, one from the army, one from the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) and three will be lay members as credible individuals and philanthropists are involved in such councils the world over,` he said.
He added that there were 80 members in a council established in 2012 and 32 in one established in 2015.
`With only 17 members this time, making decisions will be easy for the council,` he said.
In the past, medical colleges have started litigation against the council and wasted its time with stay orders, he said, which is why it has been decided to establish a medical tribunal to decide cases on time.
`Medical tribunals will be established by the government much like banking tribunals. All processes will be made simple in the new ordinance such as the inspection of colleges and the recognition of institutions,` he said.
`PMDC will be given more autonomy to expedite processes. For example, in the past, when a college wanted to introduce a new programme, it had to submit an application with the ministry which forwarded it to PMDC. The council would inspect the college and send a report to the ministry which would issue the notification. Now, colleges will contact PMDC directly and the ministry will only issue the notification,` he explained.`In the past, PMDC and CPSP were often at loggerheads over issues of power. Their grievances and confusions will be addressed as well. Though degrees of CPSP graduates will be registered with PMDC, the process has been streamlined,` he said.
A PMDC official said that in 2012, PMDC committee was established through an act of parliament but in 2013, then president Asif Ali Zardari promulgated a presidential ordinance and appointed Dr Raja Amjad as administrator.
`Dr Amjad held elections and a council was established. In 2014, the PML-N government promulgated a PMDC ordinance but PPP passed a resolution in Senate and repealed it. In 2016, an ad-hoc committee headed by retired Gen Azhar Kiani was established which held elections and a committee presided by Prof Dr Shabir Lehri was established,` he said.
Even that ordinance did not pass through parliament, he added, and in Jan 2017, the chief justice dissolved the council and appointed a former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Shakirullah Jan, as acting president of the council.
The official said that this will be the first time that the council will not include representation from the SC.
There will be no representation from the bureaucracy either.
`The major challenge for the government will be ensuring the ordinance passes through parliament,` he said.