Health ministry takes note of doctors’ sacking in Saudi Arabia

Published: August 9, 2019


ISLAMABAD: Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has taken serious cognizance of the reports regarding termination of contracts of Pakistani doctors in Saudi Arabia.

The health minister has directed the staff concerned to immediately contact relevant Saudi authorities inquiring about the authenticity of the news and seeking further details of the issue.

Once the nature and extent of the problem is verified, appropriate remedial actions would be taken through government-to-government channels to provide maximum relief to the affected health professionals.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision is to extend all-out support to Pakistani diaspora in foreign countries to protect their rights and resolve their problems.

Every country, including Pakistan, has its own medical regulators who implement a set of rules to modulate the medical practice in their respective country and ensure safety and standards of healthcare.

The health minister has taken up the issue at the highest level and a resolution will be adopted soon.

Meanwhile, recently, Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries rejected the postgraduate degree programme of Pakistan — MS (Master of Surgery) and MD (Doctor of Medicine) — removing it from the eligibility list of the highest paid tier.

This has reportedly rendered hundreds of highly qualified doctors jobless. A majority of them are in Saudi Arabia who have been told to leave or be ready for deportation.

Rejecting Pakistan’s MS/MD degree, the Saudi ministry of health claimed it lacked structured training programme, a mandatory requirement to hire medics against important positions. After the Saudi move, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also took the similar step.

It was learnt that the same degree programme offered by India, Egypt, Sudan and Bangladesh was acceptable in Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Some of the affected doctors and senior health officials in Pakistan blame the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) for damaging their career.

A spokesperson for the Association of University Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan claimed that CPSP delegations during recent visits to Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states had presented distorted facts about Pakistan’s university programme to maintain monopoly of the CPSP-sponsored FCPS qualification.

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It is said that the CPSP claimed there was no training-based post-graduate medical degree in Pakistan, except FCPS.

University of Health Sciences Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Javed Akram dispelled the impression that the MS/MD programme was not a structured training qualification.

“The MS/MD degrees have been declared a five-year level-III research and clinical qualification by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council,” he said.

“The MS and MD degrees are enriched with dynamic, congruent and structured curriculum comprising clinical and research component at par excellence of international standards designed by the World Federation of Medical Education,” Prof Akram said.

According to official figures, currently 4,440 postgraduates are serving at various government and private medical institutions in Pakistan. Of them, 102 are teaching as faculty members in senior positions.

Dean (academics) of the CPSP, Prof Dr Ghulam Mustafa Arain, rejected the allegations and said the CPSP representatives had been promoting FCPS qualification during visits abroad to create a good image of Pakistan in the field of medical education.

Secretary of the Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department, Punjab, Momin Agha, said they had taken up the issue with provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid.

He said after deliberations, it had been unanimously decided to hand over the matter to the medical education committee which was looking after under-graduate and post-graduate degree programmes.

The committee comprising senior medical teachers of high repute would examine the issue in respect of reforms in the MS/MD qualification, if needed, to meet the international requirements.

“It is clear that the MS/MD qualification is a structured degree programme which meets all job requirements locally and internationally,” Agha said.

He said the local health authorities would take up the matter with health managers in the Arab countries.

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