Doctors line up outside PMDC seeking licences

Say they were made to wait for hours in sweltering heat


Shabbir Hussain April 14, 2020
PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of doctors on Monday lined up outside the building of the apex regulator of medical institutions in the country, seeking licences so that they can continue their medical practices or get jobs at a time when the country is caught in the middle of a pandemic.

Dr Khawar, the chairman of the Insaf Doctors Forum at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), said that he had been waiting outside the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) building all morning but he and other doctors were not allowed inside.

“Doctors have come here from across the country [to have licences renewed],” he said, adding that they faced great trouble as they were made to queue up under the hot sun.

“I met a doctor who had travelled for about 20 hours to reach the council but the security guard at the main gate is not allowing him to enter the building,” Dr Khawar claimed.

“We respect the decision of the honourable court regarding the resumption of PMDC and hope that the council starts functioning properly and doctors across the country can get relief,” he said.

Among those who had arrived at the council’s offices were Pakistani doctors who have foreign qualifications but are required to clear the National Examinations Board (NEB) to be able to practice in the country.

Doctors said that many of them have been waiting for their licence ever since the council was shut down by the government overnight last October through an ordinance.

They said that they cannot apply for jobs in health care facilities without a licence.

During the emergency imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the precious time of doctors is being wasted due to the fight between the PMDC and Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) - created by the government through another ordinance but it was struck down by the courts in February.

“We demand to clear all pending cases immediately,” the doctors said, adding that NEB should be allowed to resume its functions of screening foreign graduates without any further delay.

Some doctors suggested that PMDC start teleservices whereby the council can provide doctors with an online or telephonic appointment with the relevant officials so that doctors do not have to travel in such trying circumstances.

Moreover, they said that they should be allowed to apply for their licences and other necessary certificates through an online or postal method which they can complete from home. The necessary fees or challan can also be paid online.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2020.

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