LAHORE - Axe will not fall on Pakistani doctors working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East countries as the authorities have not de-accredited any postgraduate degree.

Recent reports of sacking of doctors following the KSA de-accredited MS (Master of Surgery) and MD (Doctor of Medicine) degrees awarded by medical universities in Pakistan sent ripples among the degree holders working abroad and health mangers in the country.

Study of health regulations of the KSA, United Arab Emirates and Qatar and discussion of doctors with Ambassador of Pakistan in Riyadh, however, dispelled the impression of a grave situation. “There are some individual cases. It is not a collective or current issue. Some of the individuals underwent annual appraisal and were served notices for their poor performance. This has been painted as issue of all doctors working in the KSA”, insiders say while giving details of meeting of doctors with Ambassador of Pakistan.

Saudi regulations place Pakistani degrees higher than India’s

They believe that some individual cases have been overplayed that ultimately degraded Pakistani postgraduate medical qualification.

University of Health Sciences Vice Chancellor Prof Javed Akram also dispelled the impression, saying it was the issue of a few doctors.

“We are going to Saudi Arabia for a meeting with health managers there. We will discuss the issue with the authorities in details,” he said. 

The Saudi Commission for Health Specialist updated the Executive Regulation for Professional Classification and Registration in 2017-18 that divided medical certificates in general specialties in three categories on the basis of documentation and feedback from accreditation committee. The first category includes Fellowship of Royal College of developed world like Australia, Ireland, Canada, the UK and the US. The second category certificates include some of the developed world, Middle East, South Africa, Scandinavian and other countries .The qualification of College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan is included in the second category. Indian MS/MD are included in second category with the condition that it should be followed by doctorate of medicine and Maters of Chirurgery and Diplomat in National Board. The third category included degrees from Sri Lanka, Philippines, Jordan, Russia, Romania, Philippines and few other countries. Membership of CPSP (MCPS) has been included in third category and equated with MD/MS of Bangladesh and MD/MS/DNB of India. As such degrees of CPSP have placed higher than the ones awarded by Indian universities.

As MD/MS of Pakistan is not part of the Saudi regulations in any category, there is no question of de-accreditation.

Before finalisation of regulations that become effective in 2017-18, Saudi Commission for Health Specialties invited degree awarding bodies from across the globe for presentation on training and examination system. From Pakistan, CPSP informed the authorities about training and examination system and worldwide acceptance of FCPS and MCPS. No university from Pakistan bothered to explain about MD/MS training programs. As such MS/MD degrees awarded by 20 different universities in Pakistan are not part of the regulations.

The specialists working abroad had proposed steps at the level of national accreditation body like Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Medical and Dental Council for uniformity of medical education in the country and presentation of case for inclusion of MS/MD in the forthcoming regulations.

Secretary CPSP Prof Irshad Waheed has dispelled the impression of negative role of the institution in downplaying degrees awarded by other universities. “CPSP has never discussed degrees of other universities with anyone on any platform. We discuss own training program and not that of any other”, he said.

Noting the absence of MS/MD in the current regulations, Vice Chancellors of UHS, King Edward Medical University and other stakeholders had already approached Saudi Commission for Health Specialties with the request to include the degree program in next edition.

On March 13, 2019, Director Postgraduate Education of KEMU approached Director General Accreditation with the request to include MS/MD in the regulations. He sent the same letter to UAE authorities.

Registrar UHS Dr Asad Zaheer had also requested a meeting of university delegation with Saudi Commission for Health for resolving the present issue. Health managers have expressed hope of inclusion of MS/MD degrees in the regulations scheduled to be revised in 2020.

Replying to a letter of the KEMU, Chief Executive Officer of Health Regulation of Dubai Health Authority said that MD and FCPS were recognised qualification. Other Middle East countries including Kuwait had also accredited MD and FCPS.