Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti

Punjab, under the leadership of CM Shahbaz Sharif is leading in healthcare delievery system and medical education. I am pleased to learn that due to robust system presently the doctors are available at rural and basic health centers with provision of free medicine to the ailing humanity. Projects like (PKLI) Pakistan Kidney Liver Institute are going to provide international level facilities to epidemic diseases like hepatitis B & C in the province. Punjab Emergency Services and Punjab Healthcare Commission are already taking leading role for other provinces.

Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafique and Health Secretary Syed Najam Ahmad Shah have visionary approach under the leadership of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Shareef, who believe in strengthening of the system. Medical education of Pakistan and province needs revamping to achieve the international standards. Revolutionary steps are being taken to provide the dynamic leadership to the medical universities of Punjab. The interviews for three main medical universities of Lahore have already been conducted and it is expected that the appointments of new vice chancellors will take these universities to the new heights. The King Edward Medical University came into being as Lahore Medical College in the year 1860 and named after King Edward the then King of Britain in the year 1911. It was given the status of medical university on May 12, 2005. The Mayo Hospital came into being in 1871 which was the biggest hospital of the university. Despite the oldest medical institution of the country, it stands at number 6th in the list of medical universities of the country. The second medical university of Lahore is Fatima Jinnah Medical University which came into being just after the inception of Pakistan in the year 1947 due to the efforts of Prof Shujaat Hussain and other senior professors. It was named by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah after her sister’s name Fatima Jinnah. It was formally inaugurated by the then prime minister Khawaja Nazim Uddin in the year 1949. It was given the status of medical university in the year 2015.

The third medical university is the University of Health Sciences which came into being in the year 2002 which is the product of sincere efforts of Prof Mahmood Ahmad. Now UHS has attained 2nd position after Aga Khan Medical University in the ranking of medical universities in Pakistan. The basic difference between college and university is that, in college only knowledge is taught whereas new research with modern trends is included with knowledge in university teaching. The system of ranking by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan is based on research which carries 41 marks, teaching quality carries 30 marks, quality assurance carries 15 marks, finance and facilities carry 10 marks, and social integration/community development carry 4 marks. The Agha Khan University got 100 percent marks whereas UHS and KEMU carry 83.54 and 53.62 marks, respectively. FJMU is one of the nascent universities. It is worth mentioning that none of the medical universities of Pakistan is included in first 5000 universities of the World.

The academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international students ratio play important roles in university ranking at international level. In the recent interviews around 30 professors contested for each university. The search committee certainly tried to find out such experts who can improve these universities in accordance with international standards and HEC requirements. The search committee shortlisted the existing Vice Chancellor of UHS Prof Junaid Sarfraz Khan along with Prof Javed Akram and Prof Sardar Fakhar Imam. Later on, the names of Prof Mahmood Shaukat and Prof Kazi Muhammad Saeed also included in shortlisted candidates. For FJMU the names of Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, Prof Aamer Zaman Khan and Prof Kazi Muhammad Saeed were shortlisted whereas for KEMU the names of Prof Asad Aslam Khan, Prof Sultan Ayub Meo and Prof Farid Ahmed Khan were shortlisted. Undoubtedly, their capabilities cannot be denied. All these shortlisted names have vast administrative and educational experience and capability to run the medical universities. Out of these, three professors have been granted grade 21 in recognition of their meritorious and exceptional services by the government of Punjab which include Prof Mahmood Shaukat, Prof Asad Aslam Khan and Prof Khalid Masood Gondal. The last two have the honour of civil award, awarded by the president of Pakistan ie Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz. The selected candidates for the post of Vice Chancellors would try their best to put their respective institution in the first 500 universities of the world.

According to a sitting member of PMDC one of the shortlisted candidate Prof Sultan Ayub Meo, a graduate of Quaid-e-Azam Medical College Bahawalpur, M Phil from Karachi University and PHD from Hamdard University submitted his experience contrary to PMDC approved rules. The criteria for the appointment of professor of PMDC is 9 years teaching experience as assistant professor in the respective subject or five year assistant professor plus three years associate professor. Experience certificate provided by Prof Meo reflects his appointment as assistant professor on December 29, 2001 and he was eligible for the professor on December 29, 2010. Whereas the experience provided as professor begins from October 2008 which is against the rules of regulatory bodies of Pakistan.

It is also learnt that his experience has not been validated yet by PMDC. I expect from the leadership of health department to go through the validity of such experience as he has been shortlisted to lead one of the most prestigious institution of the country. His CV also reflects FRCP qualification which is generally awarded after MRCP. Moreover, these honorary qualifications are never considered for promotion, elevation and appointment purposes. I also expect from PMDC to look into the educational experience provided by Prof Meo and HEC to analyse the quality and transcript of his M Phil and PhD degrees. Although M Phil duration and PHD duration does not match to the standardisation as both degrees are overlapped, the duration of his PhD is one and half year which is against the rules of HEC of Pakistan and both are from different institutions.

It is also learnt that he provided the training certificate of physician’s practice from 2008 to 2011 for the purpose of FRCP qualification and at the same time he claimed the experience of professor of Physiology. I am astonished that the person having domicile out of Punjab is entitled for the post in the institutions of Punjab. It is strange to mention that he did not describe in his CV that his FRCP qualification from (Ireland, London, Edinburgh & Glasgow) is honorary. At the same time one of the highest internal merit candidate Major General Abdul Khaliq Naveed, who is both FCPS and PhD Dean Rifphah Academy, has not been shortlisted. I am sure that the authorities would go through the relevant record before forwarding the names to the competent authority as the vision of the chief minister is popular to 100 percent merit and transparency which is far more important in case of appointment on this post for the better health for Radiant Pakistan.