Quacks to get tougher sentences

national assembly of pakistanISLAMABAD: National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination on Friday approved the Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Act to amend the existing decades-old Medical and Dental Council Ordinance 1962 proposing strict penalties for unregistered medical practitioners.

The proposed bill which was introduced by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Dr Donya Aziz in the NA in 2009 proposes that no person, other than a registered medical/dental practitioner shall practice medicine or dentistry and any person who acts in contravention of the law shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to two years but shall be not less than six months, or with fine which may extend to Rs 200,000 but shall not be less than Rs 1,000, or with both. As it stands, under 1962 Ordinance unregistered medical practitioners were penalised with just Rs 500 fine or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.

“Every institution, intending to establish a medical or dental college, shall apply for an inspection of the Council prior to advertisement, calling application for admission therein, for first year, and shall obtained No Objection Certificate from the council which will be issued after examination the complete feasibility report and inspection of the medical or dental college by the inspector and approval of the council,” the draft bill says.

It adds: “No person shall run or establish any college or institution for imparting education in medicine or dentistry, and neither shall any university grant affiliation to any such college or institution nor any such college or institution shall award any certificate unless recognition has been granted to such college or institution under this Ordinance. ”

The draft bill proposes that whoever runs or establishes any college or institution for imparting education in medicine or dentistry, which is not recognized shall be guilty of an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years but will not be less than a year, or with fine which may extend to Rs 10 million but shall not be less than Rs 5 million, or with both.

In statements of objects and reasons, bill mover said that the PMDC Ordinance of 1962 is in need of being updated as much progress has been made in the field of medical practice and education since 1962. “An updated Ordinance was promulgated by the president some years ago, but being not ratified by the parliament the amendments failed to hold any validity.

The original ordinance is not equipped to satisfactorily handle the numerous private medical colleges that have been set up in recent years. It is vital to amend the 1962 PMDC ordinance to enable the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council to ensure the quality of medical education in the country,” they said.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Dr Donya Aziz said that her proposed bill will modernise the medical profession in the country. “The existing PMDC Ordinance does not cover private medical colleges but the new bill brings them in the purview of PMDC. The draft bill also brings structural changes in PMDC,” she said, adding that the draft bill will ensure a standard uniform medical education in Pakistan in both private and public sector medical institutions. – PT