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What’s wrong with our doctors?

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have sacked hundreds of Pakistani doctors, rejecting their postgraduate degrees — MS (Master of Surgery) and MD (Doctor of Medicine) – issued under the university education programme. Pakistan’s higher medical education programmes have been known for their quality and professionalism all over the world, and doctors’ competence speaks for itself. This worrying development is likely to render hundreds of doctors jobless, and deprive Pakistan of valuable remittances. The most damaging thing, however, will be irreversible damage to the country’s medical education reputation.
The reason for the abrupt decision by the Saudi ministry of health is that Pakistan’s postgraduate degrees are allegedly short of structured training programmes, a mandatory requirement to recruit doctors in Saudi hospitals. Similar concerns have been shown by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Doctors with similar qualifications from India, Egypt, Sudan and Bangladesh, however, will continue working in Saudi Arabia and other countries.
The outcome is, as per the sacked doctors, the result of the distortion of facts presented to the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties by the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP). The spokesperson for the Association of University Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan Dr Asad Noor Mirza alleges that CPSP delegates have been misrepresenting the image of Pakistan’s university programme to foreign authorities only to maintain the monopoly of CPSP-sponsored FCPS degree without thinking twice that this would bring a bad name to the country. Finally snapping out of its slumber, the University of Health Sciences has issued a rejoinder that the MS/MD programmes offered by them are well-structured, based on five-year level-III research and clinical qualification, recognised by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and on a par with international standards designed by the World Federation of Medical Education.
The university, however, needs to take up the issue with relevant quarters in Saudi Arabia and other countries instead of indulging in blame game. Most of the time, such measures are not taken merely on someone’s presentations. The university should listen to the foreign authorities, and consider improving the programme on the basis of the objections.
We hear that the Punjab Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department has raised the issue with the provincial health minister and now the matter is with the medical education committee, which looks after under-graduate and post-graduate degree programmes. The department’s calculated move shows that the university programme lacks structured training. Universities had better improve the programme instead of feeding the media distorted facts.



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