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KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet, keeping in view defective admission policy of Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) in medical and dental colleges/ universities, decided to lower passing percentage in MDCAT-2021 from 65 percent to 50 percent so that the candidates having not less than 50 percent score may be considered as eligible for admission in Session 2021-2022.

This decision would not only provide an opportunity to the provincial candidates to seek admission in medical and dental colleges/ universities of Sindh but the seats which were going to remain vacant would be utilised, said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while presiding over the cabinet meeting here at CM House.

The cabinet was told that after replacing the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), the National Assembly passed Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) Act with the objective to regulate medical profession, medical education and to recognize medical and dental qualifications all over Pakistan. The Section 16(f) of PMC 2020 provides powers to PMC to conduct all examinations, whereas Section 18(3) provides that the admission to medical or dental programs conducted by public colleges is to be regulated as per policy of the Provincial Governments. The meeting was told that the marks obtained by a student in MDCAT conducted by the Authority shall constitute a minimum of 50 percent of the weightage for the purposes of admission in the public colleges.

Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho told the meeting that in the PMC Act 2020, there is no mention of pass or fail percentage in the eligibility criteria Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT). Likewise, there is no mention of a minimum compulsory passing score, which at present is 65 percent according to the PMC conducted computer-based MDCAT-2021 exam in October 2021, based on Federal curriculum on different dates.

“The test from federal curriculum put Sindh students at a disadvantage which resulted in low percentage of passing students,” she said and added last year, the passing percentage of MDCAT test was 60 percent whereas this year, this requirement has been unilaterally increased to 65 percent. As a result, the total number of students who qualified last year was 8,287 (32.8 percent) while those who qualified in MDCAT 2021 is 7,797 (22.4 percent).

The total number of seats in Medical and Dental colleges (Public and Private) in Sindh is 5490. Last year, with the passing percentage of 60 percent in MDCAT, 8,287 students passed in Sindh out of which 2,900 took admissions in public sector medical and dental colleges. Of the remaining 5,387 students, about 800 took admissions in the Private Sector medical and dental colleges, and the remaining 4,587 were not able to get admission mainly due to non-affordability. Thus about 1800 seats were left vacant and the private sector got 1300 candidates from other provinces, while 492 seats remained unfilled. With this growing trend of lesser admissions, Sindh will face a severe shortage of about 10,000 doctors in the next five years.

However, Chief Minister said that WHO recommends one doctor against 850 people whereas Sindh has one doctor against 3200 people. “Hence this gap will further worsen in the future if the situation persists,” he said.

Minister Health said that she held several meetings with the Vice Chancellors of Public medical and dental universities (Sindh Chapter) and with Pakistan Association of Medical and Dental Institutions (Sindh Chapter), wherein it was decided with consensus that in order to fill the total seats, passing percentage of MDCAT-2021 should be slashed from existing 65 percent to 50 percent.

Dr Azra Pechuho said that the request to lower the passing percentage was not only communicated in writing to the President PMC but a delegation from Sindh also met him, but no response was received from PMC.

Keeping in view the situation the cabinet decided to lower the passing percentage in MDCAT 2021 from 65 percent to 50 percent and the candidates having not less than 50 percent score may be considered as eligible for admission in Session 2021-2022 while the weightage of MDCAT-2021 in overall merit would remain the same, as prescribed under Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) Act.

However, Minister Transport Awais Qadir Shah briefing the cabinet said that his department has signed an agreement with National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) for procurement of 250 diesel hybrid buses for Sindh Intra-district people’s bus service project in October 2021.

The Transport department has a scheme to launch: Sindh Intra-District Peoples Bus Service Project for Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad through Sindh Mass Transit Authority.

Awais Shah said that the construction of Depots, operation & maintenance of buses and revenue collection would be carried out by private operators. The chief minister directed the minister to launch the buses latest by April 2022. The cabinet approved the agreement signed by the transport department with NRTC.

The provincial cabinet on the recommendation of health department approved creation of Sindh Thalassemia and Hemoglobinopathy Foundation (STHF) to work for promotion, development, and financing of Thalassemia and hemoglobinopathy centres across the province for better treatment of Thalassemia. The foundation will have an 11-member body under the secretary health to govern the foundation. The provincial cabinet on the recommendation of the Population department discussed and approved amendments in The Sindh Reproductive Healthcare Rights Act, 2019. Under the amendment premarital consultation on family planning has been made mandatory for registration of Nikah. Telehealth & self-care and Maternal and Perinatal death surveillance and response have also been made part of the bill.

Through an amendment in Dow University of Health Sciences Act, 2004 the Sindh Medical College section was abolished from the Act as the Sindh medical has been established as a full-fledged university and similar other amendments were approved and referred to the provincial assembly.

The Investment department told the cabinet that the chief minister has already approved creation of Sindh Economic Zones Management Company (SEZMC) as an administrative agency of Khairpur Special economic Zone established over an area of 140 acres- the first Industrial Park with SEZ status. On the request of the Investment department the cabinet authorised the SEZMC to take over as Administrative Agency of KSEZ and immediately accommodate the investors/zone enterprises.

The cabinet also abolished the Steering Committee working under Commissioner Sukkur for plots allotment and infrastructure development. On the request of Minister Agriculture Manzoor Wassan, the chief minister directed SEZMC to complete all the on-going schemes of the zone on priority basis.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, advisors, special assistants, chief secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairman P&D Mohsin Naqvi and other concerned officers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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