Early conducting of MBBS entry test denounced

Karachi, July 02, 2008: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has demanded the government to increase health budget equivalent up to 5 per cent of the total GDP as health conditions in the country are deteriorating day-by-day.

"The conducting of the entry test by Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) to induct students for its MBBS programmes in different institutions before the result of intermediate examination announced is totally unfair and unreasonable. The DUHS administration earns millions of rupees on account of admission process, is totally unjustified."

Talking to newsmen at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday President PMA Karachi Dr Aziz Khan Tank and Secretary-General PMA Dr Habib-ur-Lehman said that one child dies every minute from measles, mumps, chicken pocks, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection. We have 34 per cent underweight mothers, and our 65 per cent women are anaemic. In our country 30,000 women die every year form pregnancy-related problems, and approximately 400,000 suffer from fistulae.

They said, "From these health indicators, as mentioned above, one can imagine where we are standing at? And, insult to injury is that our public spending on health as percentage of GDP has further went down between 0.6-0.4 percent. It is a matter of concern that whatever health resources we have in hand are inequitably distributed. We spend 85 per cent of health resources on tertiary care hospitals which cater only 10 per cent of population, where as our 90 per cent population is being served with only 15 per cent of health resources."

They said that as far as the government was concerned, it had not shown any commitment to address these health issues in the country. It is petty that the present government has yet to announce the permanent health minister which reflects its disinterest and lake of political will to solve the health problems of the people, they added.

"The steps taken so far by the present government in the health sector are insufficient and disappointing, and there is immediate need for taking reformative measures without which the health issues facing the common men will remain unsolved. We have 70 per cent rural based population where primary health care is not available. If we look into our health indicators, the picture does not come as rosy as our governments tend to paint. The majority of our population has no access to emergency health care and emergency obstetrical care. We have life expectancy of 60 years, which was till recently 63 years.

A big proportion of our population is unable to drink clean water or enjoy the facilities of sanitation. Water borne bacterial infection is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality both in children and adults. We are ready to support and provide guidelines to governments for better health of the nation. We appreciate the formulation of health task force by the government, and demand for induction of real stakeholders in it instead of vested interest people both from public and private sectors. We also welcome the policy guidelines initially announced by the government as we have already been proposing these for the past 50 years. We hope that these guidelines would be actually implemented and not consigned to some obsolete corner to gather dust."

"The provincial governments have liberal policy regarding admission to private medical colleges. Substandard medical education is available at a very high cost. A system of check and balance is lacking in the PMDC as the council is comprised more of nominated members in stead of democratically elective members. The medical education in public medical colleges is also on decline. The public medical colleges transformed themselves into so-called universities, and running them as intermediate colleges which is equal to distorting merit. PMA has time and again raised its voice against every irregularity done with regard of admissions in past. In this connection, we welcome and support the stand taken by the Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah that all admission tests for medical colleges in public and private sectors should be held after results of secondary board of examination," they said.

They said, "We also demand that these admission tests should be held first for the public medical colleges followed by the private medical colleges so as confusion and chaos would not occur. It will help parents saving huge amount of non refundable money just to secure admission of their children to private medical colleges."


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Medical schools must take more non-city students
Karachi: The chief minister has called a meeting with medical colleges and universities this week to discuss problems with admissions, especially those in which students from the interior who qualify are not being enrolled at places of their choice, it was learnt.

Health Secretary Shafiq Ahmed Khoso had written Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, citing deficiencies in the allocation of merit-cum-choice seats for interior Sindh candidates and the policy for students from out of Karachi. Merit-cum-choice refers to students who meet the merit criteria and get to choose where they want to study. The problem is that there was a steady decline and then a complete end to this policy four years ago.

In his letter, Khoso had informed the CM that in 1999-2000, the total number of seats at Dow Medical College (DMC) and Sindh Medical College (SMC) were 511, out of which 53 seats or 10.4 percent, were allocated on the merit-cum-choice basis for candidates from interior Sindh. This percentage dropped to 7.66 percent in 2000-01. In the following year it rose slightly to 7.76 percent. But then it dropped, in 2002-03, to 7.04 percent and after a slight increase to 7.46 percent in 2003-04, the system of allocating seats on a merit-cum-choice basis was abolished.

The health secretary also pointed out harsh treatment meted out to migrant students. In many cases, even if the candidate had all the proper documentation and approvals, he or she would be rejected by SMC and DMC on the pretext that they were overloaded.

The Sindh Health department has also proposed the removal of the reciprocal or exchange system. According to this system, since 2005, 30 seats are allocated for students from out of Karachi. The health department called for this to be increased to 100 seats, on a merit-cum-choice basis, for interior Sindh candidates at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) and its sister institutes. The department had cited the fact that four medical colleges in interior Sindh cater to a population of 30 million, from 22 districts, while DMC, SMC, Karachi Medical and Dental College (KDMC) and two other dental colleges of Karachi cover a population of 15 million, out of which, five million are non residents of Karachi. This is a large imbalance.

The proposal also stated that the admissions policy was purely at the discretion of the Sindh health department, health minister and secretaries and chief minister of the province. It called for the implementation of the chief minister's orders for migrant students from interior Sindh, stating that non-compliance should be treated as a violation of government rules.

The health department also stressed the need for handing over the hostels constructed for students from out of town. The students from places such as Kashmir and Bangladesh, have been unable to concentrate on their academics. Therefore, according to the health department, the decision needs to be taken immediately, or else it could become a discouraging factor for students applying in the future.

The proposal also sought the posting of students who have passed their FCPS Part-I examinations at hospitals affiliated with the Dow University of Health Sciences, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences and other institutes, recognized by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.

The chief minister has called the meeting which will be attended by the education and health ministers, along with the education and health secretaries, vice chancellors of Sindh Medical College (SMC) and Dow Medical College (DMC) and principals of other medical colleges of Sindh.

Dow University of Health Sciences, Dow Medical College, Sindh Medical College, Ishrat ul Ibad Dental College, Karachi Medical and Dental College (KDMC) are the government colleges in Karachi, while, Aga Khan University, Hamdard University, Sir Syed University, Jinnah Medical College, Liaquat National Medical College and Fatima Jinnah Dental College are a part of the private sector. Daily Times

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