ISLAMABAD   -   The Senate Standing Commit­tee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Thursday urged the author­ities concerned to delay the MD­CAT exams by at least 2 months, whether to be conducted pro­vincially or federally.

The chairman committee maintained that exams should also be conducted as per the PMDC Bill, which is yet to be passed. He said that since the bill now is to be passed even­tually, we support the govern­ment in the larger interest of the students. He said that there is no point in impeding the pro­cess and keeping the students in an uncertain position. Sena­tor Bahramand Khan Tangi said that students are already suf­fering from psychological is­sues due to corona first and now by the floods. Senator Ru­bina Khalid said that the stu­dents are in no position to ap­pear in the exams anytime soon. The committee urged the min­istry to take appropriate steps to ease the pain of the students of KP and Balochistan affect­ed by floods. The Special Secre­tary M/o NHSR&C informed the committee that exams for the medical students of Balochistan and KP has been delayed from 7th September to 14 Septem­ber however further delay is expected because of floods and decision on the timeline of im­plementation of the PMDC Bill.

The committee also raised the question regarding the num­ber of children below 10 years of age in Pakistan suffering from anaemia and in stunting. The Di­rector (reg) Programmes ap­prised the committee that Pa­kistan is one of the countries in the world with the highest bur­den of malnutrition. According to National Survey (NNS) 2018, one of the largest surveys con­ducted internationally so far, an estimated 40.2 percent of chil­dren under the age of five years and stunned (Chronic Malnutri­tion) and nearly 17.7 percent are wasted (Acute Malnutrition). He said that both these figures ex­ceed WHO emergency threshold levels. NNS 2018 also revealed continued high rates of micro­nutrient deficiencies in children and women. A total of 54 percent children are anaemic, 52 percent are vitamin A and 63 percent are vitamin D deficient. Similarly, 43 percent mothers are anaemic, 27 percent suffer from vitamin A and 80 percent from vitamin D deficiency.

The cumulative effect of lost manpower hours, heal expenses and lower productivity due to malnutrition is huge. The com­mittee was further informed that currently there is no direct federal government funding for intervention addressing child malnutrition in federally admin­istered areas. Ministry of NHS­R&C, government of Pakistan, has prepared a comprehen­sive PC-1 to address malnutri­tion among mothers and chil­dren with the name of “Tackling Malnutrition Induced Stunning in Pakistan” worth Rs303.5b for 5 years; 2021-26 which has been approved by the Planning Commission and is waiting re­lease of funds. The ministry in­formed that Nutrition Wing Ministry of NHSR&C in collab­oration with provincial depart­ments of Health, UN agencies and NGO partners are working on Stunting Prevention, Coun­selling & Supplementation for prevention, infant and young children feeding (IYCF), breast­feeding promotion and protec­tion, community management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), Food Fortification through the National Fortification Alliance (NFA), Adolescent Nutrition and Elimination of Trans -Fatty Ac­ids (TFAs).

The Senate panel also took up the application of one Sahibza­da Abu Zar, 2nd year medical student in Ukraine for accom­modating Pakistani medical stu­dents who had suffered due to war and now seeking admission in Pakistan medical colleges, put forward by Senator Rubina Khalid. Through the application the Pakistani Ukrainian stu­dents requested exemption from the National Equivalency Board Exam (NEB) on the ba­sis of extraordinary situation. The PMC officials proposed that as a special case, the Medical & Dental Council has considered the subject matter and has ap­proved below policy to adjust Pakistani students admitted in Ukrainian Medical Institu­tion seeking transfer to neces­sarily undergo the NEB exam with certain exemption only for 2021-2022 session for stu­dents studying in Ukraine in­cluding that any student who qualifies NED 1st year exam or 2nd year Exam but has not qual­ified 1st year exams or 2nd year Exam from his parent foreign college will be allowed admis­sion in 1st year or 2nd year in Pakistan. Student who qualifies NEB 1st year or 2nd year exam and has also qualified 1st year or 2nd year exam from his par­ent college will be allowed ad­mission in 2nd or 3rd year in Pakistan. Exceptions also in­clude that the transfer policy will be applicable to students from all Ukrainian colleges irre­spective of the grades. The Ed­ucation Manager also said that all admission will be subject to the availability of vacant seats and rules of the concerned uni­versities. The committee direct­ed the PMC to show grace and ease for the Russia-Ukrainian war-affected students and make all updates and syllabi available on the website for timely corre­spondence.

Earlier in the meeting, The Prime University of Nursing Sciences Technology Islamabad Bill, 2022 presented by Sena­tor Naseebullah Bazai and the Pakistan Pharmacy (Amend­ment) Bill, 2022 moved by Sen­ator Mustaq Ahmed Khan was also taken up. The Advisor HEC briefed the committee on the proposed Prime University of Nursing Sciences Technology, Islamabad and apprised that the university submitted a feasi­bility report to HEC for grant of ‘No objection Certificate’ (NOC) in the light of the guidelines for the establishment of a new uni­versity or an institute of high­er education, which is under the process of evaluation/ini­tial scrutiny. He said that upon meeting all requirements and competition of all modalities, in­cluding physical inspection and issuance of HEC’s NOC, the char­ter of the proposed institute will be vetted as per federal univer­sities ordinances (FUO), 2002 and forwarded to the Ministry of Federal Education & Profes­sional Training for processing and enactment from the Na­tion Assembly of Pakistan. The chairman committee directed the Advisor HEC to expedite the process of corresponding the observations found in the initial scrutiny and give a final verdict on whether or not the univer­sity fulfils the required criteria for NOC. He said that once the process is done other consid­erations will fall in place in ac­cordance with the ministry’s decision.