Due to the acute shortage of teaching faculty in dental health institutes, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) on Friday extended a moratorium on the establishment of new private dental colleges across the country for further two years.
At the same time, the council also barred 14 medical and dental colleges from accepting new admissions as they had failed to meet the criteria set by the PMDC of having a functional hospital attached with at least 150 beds, and also issued warnings to 72 medical and dental colleges that have faculty deficiencies.
PMDC Deputy Registrar Dr Shaista Faisal told The Express Tribune that a bar on the establishment of private medical and dental colleges had been in place for the last three years and now, considering the acute shortage of qualified teachers, the PMDC has decided to extend it for another two years.
“This would help maintain standards at existing private medical and dental colleges which are already facing acute faculty shortages, which ultimately causes students to suffer,” she said.
There are currently 128 medical and dental colleges functioning in Pakistan with nearly 10,846 faculty members, but the shortage is estimated to be 4,343 teachers, according to data collected by the PMDC.
“Every year, an average nearly 150 to 200 new students are enrolled in these medical and dental colleges. It has become difficult to provide them with the required teaching staff. Opening more colleges means increasing the strength of students with the same limited number of teachers,” she said.
Responding to a question, Dr Faisal said the main reason behind the faculty shortage is that Pakistan lack education institutes offering postgraduate degrees in dentistry, which is a requirement to teach. Secondly, a large number of people that do complete postgraduate studies in the field move abroad for better paying jobs, she said.
Meanwhile, PMDC President Prof Dr Masood Hameed said the council has renewed the registration of 101,802 medical practitioners and 9,614 dental practitioners, while some 9,000 letters have been written to doctors having invalid registrations for validation of their registration certificates, he said in a press statement issued here on Friday.
The statement adds that the PMDC Standing Recognition Committee has considered and registered more than 80 doctors who obtained postgraduate qualifications from abroad. Some of their registration cases had been pending for the last three years, he said.
Moreover, for the first time, PMDC has relaxed the recognition fee for postgraduate programs so that the process can be sped up.
Prof Masood further said that the council has ensured high standards as till 2012, only four new dental colleges were recognised while now and has done approximately 100 comprehensive and surprise Inspections of undergraduate and postgraduate institutions 2013 to 2014 in order to upgrade the standards of the colleges with the result closure has been recommended to the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination for five 5 medical colleges.
No qualified teachers, no problem
While condemning the PMDC’s decision, Senator Kulsoom Parveen, the chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, said it was “shocking news” and that the PMDC would deprive hundreds of students of the opportunity to become doctors.
“A shortage of faculty does not mean that PMDC should ban the establishment of new medical and dental colleges in the country. Instead, the Council should make efforts to overcome the faculty shortage,” she told The Express Tribune.
Parveen further said that the pace at which the population of the country is increasing meant there is a need to increase the number of hospitals, and for that, more doctors would be required. She said this need could only be met if youngsters had the chance to get degrees from these medical and dental colleges.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2014.