ISLAMABAD-Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Monday told a Senate body that he was given directions by the Prime Minister to withdraw names of members of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.

A meeting of Senate Standing Committee on NHS was held under chairmanship of Senator Mian Ateeq Sheih.

Discussing the PMDC bill on the agenda, Senator Ghuos Khan Niazi raised objections over administrative affairs of the PMDC and enquired about the reasons behind withdrawal of the names of 4 members of the council.

Senator Niazi also suggested disapproving the PMDC bill in the committee suspecting violation of rules in administrative matters.

He said that the PMDC was taking important administrative measures while bypassing the 17-member council which had the legal authority and 4 members were pulled out from the PMDC as they disagreed with the medical colleges’ inspection procedures.

Earlier in July, the PMDC had held its meeting, while the PM had directed ministry of NHS to withdraw names of two members nominated by him, Dr Shoaib Shah and Dr Salman Jaffer, replacing them with Dr Shehnaz Nawaz and Lt Gen (R) Dr Azhar Rashid.

Later, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa also had withdrawn name of Dr Muslim Khan who was nominated by the provincial government.

The PMDC ordinance was approved in January this year while 17 members were nominated to run the council. As the medical and dental colleges’ regulatory body is left with around a month to approve its bill, it is facing a tug of war amongst its members.

Senator Asad Ashraf while commenting on the PMDC issues said that names of the members were withdrawn as they had expressed concerns over the procedure of inspection of medical colleges.

“PMDC is being run on phone calls by a task force,” he remarked

Senator Ashraf also said that PMDC awarded honorary degree to its own member in violation of rules but no action was taken. He also asked the PMDC and NHS officials to reveal that who was briefing the PM on the PMDC matters. Senator Rehman Malik remarked that no one could be removed from his position without issuing a charge sheet and following the legal procedure.

President PMDC Dr Tariq Bhutta explained that the body had 17 members and it was not its authority to withdraw any name. He said that the ministry had taken decision of withdrawing names of nominated candidates.

Responding to the senators’ questions regarding withdrawal of members’ names, SAPM on NHS Dr Zafar Mirza said that PM had the authority of nominating and withdrawing the names for the council. “I was directed to withdraw the names of members but no reason was shared with me,” said Dr Zafar Mirza.

He said that the PM was very concerned about health sector; some matters were reported to him about the previous nominations but it was not shared with him (Dr Mirza).

Senator Ashok Kumar raising objection on the SAPM response said that it was strange that PM was taking keen interest in monitoring the members of the PMDC. “PM has a lot of other works to do,” he said.

The senators also suggested reviewing the bill of the PMDC before giving it a free way for approval.

Dr Zafar Mirza said that instead of disapproving the bill, the forum should form a committee to review the ordinance and suggest amendments as the ordinance itself was the best framework.

The chairman formed a 3-member body comprising senator Asad Ashraf, Senator Sikandar Mandhro and Senator Ashok Kumar to review the PMDC ordinance and matter of establishing Islamabad Regulatory Health Authority.

The committee was directed to submit its report within two weeks.

The committee also gave unanimous direction to the PMDC of taking the council’s approval in important administrative matters.

The committee also approved the Islamabad Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers bill 2019 in the meeting.