Instead of elections, NHS ministry forms adhoc set-up on sensitive issues ‘Advisory’ committee set to sanction dubious selection of medical colleges done by defunct PMDC

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Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad

Ministry of National Health Services Coordination is desperate to legitimize all the illegal acts committed by the previous Pakistan Medical and Dental Council that was disapproved by the Senate last month Aug 29. The upper house was of the view that a nomination based regulatory body would prove disaster for medical fraternity.
The Pakistan Medical & Dental Council Ordinance promulgated in haste in January this year had serious flaws and thus senators disapproved it thus forcing the government to withdraw the bill.
However the Health Ministry days after Senate’s disapproval constituted an ‘advisory committee’ comprising the same eight members that were part of the 2019 council. According to sources, through the previous PM&DC the government wanted to enforce its policies.
According to informed sources, selection of Dr Amer Bilal, a close associate of Dr. Nosherwan Burke (Chairman National Health Task Force and cousin of Hon. Prime Minister of Pakistan) was illegal and already questioned in a petition filed in Islamabad High Court.
Interestingly, Dr Bilal, said the sources, was nominated against the vacancy of a professor from a public sector institute/ university whereas Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar was never recognized by the PM&DC as a teaching hospital.
Similarly, Ali Raza, yet another close associate of Nosherwan Burke and counsel of Aga Khan University and CPSP, was nominated against the philanthropist seat in the council.
The recent notification dated Sept 16 constituting an advisory body (made up of all the eight members of the previous ‘disapproved’ council) presents a true picture of the persistently sad affairs of the government.
As per law, no such power or authority is vested with the Special Assistant to Prime Minister to constitute such an advisory committee on a matter that has been disapproved by the Senate.
Dr Mrza, said the sources illegally constituted the same team and Sept 16 notification itself is contradictory with regard to its ill-defined TORs.
The sources further said the so-called advisory or supervisory committee is meeting on Sunday (today) at PM&DC Secretariat where raw inspection data would be dealt with accordingly.
According to sources, the government needed to take notice of such dubious practices and as a first step towards bringing transparency and merit back, an immediate forensic audit of the inspections should be done.
With the disapproval of the PM&DC Ordinance 2019, the previous 2012 Amendment Act (Act of Parliament) is revived automatically thus election of the new council members are required to be conducted to save the medical fraternity from further damage. According to the 2012 PM&DC Act all members of the council are elected and they further elect their president.