There has been much uncertainty over the future of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). In the past few weeks, healthcare professionals and medical practitioners have scrambled to get more information about the unexpected presidential ordinance regarding it that has dissolved the controversial elected council of PMDC.

This ordinance was issued in the light of Supreme Court directives for reforms in the regulatory body. Hearing a petition filed by the suspended registrar of the council, Dr Nadeem Akbar, the apex court had observed that “butchers are being created in medical colleges, while the federal government has no role to play in this fiasco”.

It seems that the government has had enough of how things were being run. They have announced a five-member management committee to elect a new body to run PMDC. The number of the executive council members will be reduced from over 100 to just 35. There will be one representative from each of the public sector colleges in four provinces, Fata and Islamabad. One representative each will be from the private colleges in four provinces, Fata and the Islamabad capital territory. Out of the 35, as many as 20 members will be elected and the remaining nominated (ex-officio) on the basis of their expertise in different fields such as the law. Elections to the council will be held under a representative of the chief justice of Pakistan.

This is a good thing. Over 100,000 doctors, tens of thousands of students and around 6,000 faculty members in 100 medical and dental colleges and health facilities are directly or indirectly related to the PMDC. With a rampant decline of quality of services being provided by them, such an initiative will make sure that a transparent process is available for any dealings undertaken.

One cannot simply close down colleges as thousands of students’ careers are at stake. Officials have quoted that the most important point in the new law, is that a conflict of interest would not be allowed- the owners of colleges and other stakeholders cannot become members of the PMDC executive council. With this new start of making sure that there is no discrepancy, only time will tell how effectively this turn over at PMDC will be managed.