As one of the most sought and competitive fields in Pakistan, one would assume that the medical profession may also be the most regulated and efficient. That is unfortunately not true. Indeed, the debate over which body should regulate the medical and dentistry profession, oversee accreditation and policies of medical and dental colleges and set standards of conduct and issue licenses, has been a hotly debated topic, one that came to a head on Monday.

Amid strong protest by the opposition, the Senate passed a bill seeking to reconstitute the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) after dozens of amendments were inserted into it. While the treasury benches underlined the urgency to get the bill passed saying it’s about the future of medical students, the opposition members alleged that the proposed legislation was meant to “create a lot of incompetent medical professionals and serve the vested interests of a mafia.”

It is presumed that this development took place after an abysmal performance by the Pakistan Medical Commission, whereby over 28 percent or 5,873 seats in the public sector and private medical and dental colleges could not be filled this year. However, the question arises as to how this new body will fare any better.

It has been opined by some that the failure arose not from the body, but from the inconsistency of the government in enacting regulations regarding medical authorities. There has not been a consistent and long-lasting government medical authority responsible for regulating the medical and dental profession. There was initially the Pakistan Medical Council, which was dissolved through an alternate scheme where each province has its own medical council. Afterward, all provincial councils were dissolved and the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) was established as a statutory body The PMDC too was dissolved and replaced by the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) in October 2019; and now finally two years later, it seems that the PMC has been dissolved again, with the PMDC again in place.