Saudi rejection of medical degrees

Published: August 8, 2019

The decision by Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries pertaining to rejection of Master of Medicine and Master of Surgery degrees from Pakistani universities has come as a setback for the country. The Saudi government has asked Pakistani doctors with MD and MS qualifications to leave the country.

The Saudi health ministry has claimed MS/MD degree programmes of Pakistani universities lack structured training programmes — a mandatory requirement to hire doctors against important positions. Qatar, the UAE and Bahrain have also announced similar decisions. Several doctors have reportedly been issued service termination letters by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS), with reason that “your master degree from Pakistan is not acceptable according to the SCFHS regulations.”

The same degrees from India, Egypt, Sudan, and Bangladesh are acceptable in Saudi Arabia and other countries. Most of the affected doctors had been hired in 2016. Some of the affected doctors and senior health officials blame the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSP) for harming their career.

There are reports that CPSP delegations during their recent visits to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states had presented distorted facts about Pakistan’s university programmes for their own vested interests. Now it is not clear how many Pakistani doctors are to lose their jobs. This loss of highly-paid jobs will likely reduce foreign remittances at a time when the nation’s economy is in trouble.

Since friendly countries have raised doubts about the quality of higher medical education in Pakistan, it becomes very important for us to go for introspection about the state of education in the country. Are we seeing the consequences of long years of neglect and complacency about the declining state of education? Things remain under wraps when people are within their own country, but when they are exposed to international competition, the sad reality is revealed.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2019.

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