LAHORE - The Punjab government has set up three more medical universities in the province, first time through ordinances, instead of legislation by the assembly.

Through separate ordinances, the Punjab government has set up Nishter Medical University in Multan, Faisalabad Medical University and Rawalpindi Medical University, ignoring one of the top choices of students – Allama Iqbal Medical College of Lahore.

 The existing three medical universities in the province – University of Health Sciences, KEMU and Fatima Jinnah Medical University – were established through an act. But none of these is fulfilling the criterion for such a prestigious title.

The setting up of new unviersities while ignoring the state of affairs at the existing ones is a counterproductive approach. It simply would increase the number of inefficient medical institutes, thereby compounding the problem.

Established in 2001, UHS has yet to introduce post-graduation in any specialty and its role is confined to examination body. Since its establishment in 2005, the KEMU has yet to get full autonomy. Moreover, the KEMU got permanent vice chancellor merely for four years in the shape of Prof Faisal Masood.

FJMU has yet to get first permanent VC despite lapse of almost two years. FJMU lacked faculty and its affiliated Sir Ganga Ram Hospital lacked key departments. Though Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is a teaching hospital, its actual status is not more than a DHQ level healthcare facility. Except Medicine, Surgery and Gynecological, no clinical department is properly functional. Many departments are limited to just one or two rooms having less than double figure beds. Pulmonolgy and Chest Diseases, Neurology, Plastic Surgery, Paediatrics Surgery, Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Medical Intensive Care Unit, Cardiothoracic Surgery and Rheumatology Departments never came into existence at this teaching hospital. Some departments exist in documents only with no infrastructure and manpower practically. Owing to these shortcomings, FJMU has yet to get recognition from Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).

As per the insiders, the government took the decision of establishing these universities in haste without fulfilling pre requisites to give such a prestigious title.

“Instead of taking measures to bring already existing universities to desired level, the government has established three more incomplete institutions. These are established through ordinances. At the earliest, Bill can be introduced in the Punjab Assembly after budget session. After that, at least 3-6 months are needed for passage of Act. Like FJMU, incomplete faculty and departments at affiliated hospitals will remain an issue for these universities”, said an official at Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department who wanted not to be quoted.

“After Mayo Hospital, Jinnah Hospital is the biggest tertiary care hospital in the province. From amongst medical colleges, AIMC is the top choice of students for doing graduation. It was more appropriate to give status of university to AIMC that possessed faculty and a proper hospital. Even all other medical colleges in Lahore are above on merit as compared to institutions in Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad”, he said, adding, the decision would only change sign boards on buildings of these three institutions as it would take years to fulfill the criterion for such a big tag.