The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has started the process to relax rules for faculty members allowing those with limited education rather than specialization in specific disciplines to teach four important subjects.
However, faculty members of public sector medical colleges and the Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI) have opposed the step and said it would badly affect the already deteriorating standard of medical education in the country.
PMDC Registrar Dr Waseem Hashmi said the decision had been taken in the best interest of medical education and to meet the deficiency of faculty members.
When contacted, Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) Chairman Mian Ateeq Shailch told Dawn that some of the faculty members had approached him over the matter af ter which he had decided to hold a public hearing in which faculty members would be called.
According to documents available withDawn, doctors having Fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (FCPS) in medicine and allied specialties would be allowed to teach anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology and physiology till Dec 31, 2023.
An official of the PMDC requesting not to be quoted said the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) offers separate specialities in all four subjects which means FCPS in medicine and allied specialties cannot be equal to the specialisation in anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology and physiology.
`However, the council has decided to allow the faculty members to teach subjects in which they have limited knowledge.
The chief justice of Pakistan dissolved the council about eight months ago and ordered the formation of an ad hoc committee to improve the standards of education.
`But the council`s latest decision cannot be helpful in improving the standard of education and eliminating quackery in the country,` he said.
A similar decision was taken in 2014 for three years. The notification, dated 26th Aug 2014 stated that doctors having FCPS in medicine would be allowed to teach physiology, pharmacology and biochemistry.
Moreover, it was also decided that teachers holding MPhil in histopathology can teach forensic medicine.
However, the notification was withdrawn as the move was opposed in parliamentary committees and in other forums.
Medical Teachers Association (MTA) General Secretary Dr Khurram Sohail Rajatold Dawn that the latest decision would affect the quality of education.
`A similar decision was taken in 2014 by the council but it was withdrawn because of severe resistance. Being the general secretary MTA, I oppose the decision because FCPS (medicine or surgery) cannot teach subjects such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology and physiology,` he said.
PAMI General Secretary Khagan Waheed Khawaja also criticised the decision.
`There are MPhil and PhD faculty members across the country and they do not run any clinic because they teach subjects of basic sciences. However, the council is allowing doctors who run clinics to start teaching in medical colleges,` he said.
`Moreover, FCPS is just a diploma and is not accepted anywhere in the world. We condemn the decision because FCPS (medicine) cannot teach the four subjects,` he said.
When contacted, CPSP President Zafarullah Chaudhry said he was not aware of the development and, therefore, was not in a position to comment.
Senator Shaikh said he had decided to take up the issue in the standing committee.
`The standard of education is not up to the mark in Pakistan and it is worsening further.
The demand for our doctors is decreasing in the world because of the quality of education.
`A large number of colleges have been established in the country due to which we don`t have faculty members. Now efforts are being made to bring faculty members having limited knowledge.