Evening medical college: PMA claims plans are afoot but few admit to it

Bodies have debated idea but rejected it already.

Express August 10, 2011

KARACHI: A controversy over night classes at medical schools appears to have developed with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) in Sindh claiming that all principals and vice chancellors in the province have agreed to go ahead with the plan.

In a press release on Wednesday, the PMA said that it found out from reliable sources that in response to a letter (No. 1014/PSPM/2011) from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, all medical colleges agreed to start the classes. Apparently, they would make money that could be used to develop the colleges. The PMA president in Sindh, Dr Samrina Hashmi, adamantly told The Express Tribune that directives have been passed by the health department.  Strangely, though, at least two senior administrators at separate medical colleges in Karachi disputed this claim. “Practically speaking, this move is impossible,” said one official on the condition of anonymity. “Medicine is not just theoretical. You need clinical rotations as well as postings to various departments. And since there are no evening OPDs, this crucial requirement will not be met.” Furthermore, patients who are examined by students in the morning will not be permitted to be seen by students in the evening as this will disturb them.

The private sector is distancing itself from any such move. An associate dean at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Dr Wasim Jafri, simply said, “I do not support this idea at all.”

The director for strategic planning and development at Ziauddin University, Dr Faisal Farooqui, said the same thing, although for different reasons. “We deliberated on this issue about four months back, but then decided against it in view of the safety and security situation in the city.”

It appears that the regulatory body for colleges, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), is also against night classes. “The proposal for evening medical college was presented and debated twice before the council and was rejected both times,” said the adviser to the PMDC president. “There is no such move in the pipeline.”

Despite these denials, it seems that the PMA is convinced work is being done at the back end to start the classes. “The PMA also demands that the PMDC should not play games and stop supporting the establishment of night medical colleges immediately,” it said in its press release.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.