Islamabad-The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services and Regulations (NHSR) has grilled the officials of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for poor presentation of central admission policy and approving the new fee structure of private medical and dental colleges. The meeting of the committee was held here in the chair of Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi.

The committee discussed the issue of ‘The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health (Amendment) Bill, 2017’, 10 per cent miscellaneous charges by the Shifa International Hospital and a public petition on non-functional nursing schools in Balochistan.

The situation was embarrassing for PMDC representative Maj Gen (Retd) Abdul Khaliq Naveed when he failed in giving detailed presentation on the agenda to the senate body.

The chairman committee said that PMDC has not prepared the central admission policy and has come with an old presentation to present before the committee. The situation was humorous when the PMDC representative said that details are given in the hard copy but are not available in the computer presentation. The Federal Minister for NHSR Saira Afzal Tarar annoying on the PMDC representative said to inquire the matter and informed the committee on agenda.

She said that a four member committee comprising Dr. Abid Farooqi, Dr Eice Mohaamad, Dr Abdul Khaliq Naveed and Ejaz Hassan Khan had negotiated with Private Association of Medical Institutions (PAMI) for the admission policy and increase in the fee.  As per new fee structure, the private medical colleges will charge Rs800, 000 annually and take five cheques of guarantee from the students. She said that the private medical institutions have been directed to make the procedure transparent by uploading the details of applicant for admission online before the merit list is uploaded.

However, the committee members including Senator Ashok Kumar, Attique Sheikh and Nauman Wazir Khattak remained unsatisfied with the steps taken for the admission policy and regularisation of fee structure of medical colleges. Senator Ashok Kumar said that PMDC allowed private medical institutions to increase the fee without taking committee into confidence.

The minister said that the fee was not raised since 2011 and as per the policy PMDC was bound to allow the institutions.

“Allowing the colleges to increase the fee from legal procedure will close the backdoor channels from where they were profiteering,’ she said. She also said that a ‘Grievance Committee’ in every province will be established which will be responsible to address the complaints filed by students. The minister said that approval of new fee structure will be given by the federal cabinet.

However, the committee was not convinced and decided to formulate a consensus committee for further deliberation. On the question of charging 10 per cent ‘miscellaneous charges’ by the Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad, the DHO under the Commissioner Office briefed that these were service charges whch were being charged by the private hospitals and a survey had been conducted by his team to determine its validity.

Senator Attique Sheikh raised the issue of contaminated fresh milk being given to households of Islamabad. He showed deep concern on the matter and requested the chairman to send call letter to the Pakistan Dairy Association for clarification.

The representative from the Commissioner Office responded that two sets of laws were workable in this regard; the first was the Adulteration Act and second was Municipal Laws under the custody of CADD. He suggested that there was room for further legislation to expand the jurisdiction of the Commissioner’s office for wider effective implementation in the matter concerned.

The consideration of ‘The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health (Amendment) Bill, 2017’was dropped due to consecutive absences of the mover, Chaudhry Tanvir Khan.

The committee agreed with the briefing provided by the Manager Tobacco Company that available laws already covered the amendments introduced by the Senator and there was no need to legislate on the matter further. The meeting was attended by Chairperson Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi, Senators Hamza, Naseema Ehsan, Dr Ashok Kumar, Kalsoom Perveen, Nauman Wazir Khattak, Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Dr Ghaus Muhammad Khan Niazi, and Khalida Perveen as members and Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, Saira Afzal Tarar.