Public sector medical colleges are to raise fees for BSc (Hons) in allied health sciences in view of a lack of funds, which has already prompted several institutions to drop the courses.
The academic committee of the University of Health Sciences (UHS) Board of Governors, at a meeting on Wednesday, was told that the government had approved funding of Rs40 million for the ‘Strengthening training facilities for allied health sciences courses in UHS-affiliated colleges’ project, but the money had not been released.
As a result, several colleges have stopped offering the courses over the last couple of years. The committee resolved to continue or restart the courses and asked UHS Vice Chancellor Prof IA Naveed to direct all colleges and institutions affiliated with the university to chalk out a rationalised fee structure .
Shortage of qualified staff
The vice chancellor told the committee that the UHS had launched the BSc (Hons) degrees in 2007 to address the shortage of qualified staff for lab analysis, physiotherapy and other fields. Four-year courses were launched in medical imaging technology, medical lab technology, physiotherapy, optometry, emergency and intensive care, dental technology, cardiac perfusion, biomedical engineering, speech and language therapy, respiratory therapy, occupation therapy, dental hygiene, nutrition, audiology, operation theatre assistance and ophthalmic medicine.
He said that the courses were currently supposed to be on offer at 21 public and private institutes and colleges affiliated with the UHS. But Nishtar Medical College Multan, Quaid-i-Azam Medical College Bahawalpur and the Services Institute of Medical Sciences Lahore had stopped offering them, while Punjab Medical College Faisalabad and de’ Montmorency College of Dentistry Lahore had not started them, citing a lack of funds.
The fee for these courses at public medical colleges in Rs6,000-8,000 per year; at private colleges, it is Rs80,000-150,000 per year. The committee members noted that while the government heavily subsidised MBBS courses at public colleges, there was little funding for allied fields.
The committee agreed that these courses must be continued to address the dearth of qualified paramedical staff in the province. UHS Registrar Dr Asad Zaheer told the committee that the Punjab government had recently approved a new service structure for personnel in allied health sciences.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2013.