ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Abdul Qadir Patel on Wednesday announced the indefinite postponement of Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Tests (MDCAT). The entrance exam will now be held “after consultation with the provinces”, the minister said.

Mr Patel, while addressing a news conference, noted that as many as 1,300 people had been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced by the floods. The decision to postpone the MDCAT, which is mandatory for admission to medical and dental colleges, had been taken with that in view, he said.

The minister further announced that the passing percentage for the MBBS and BDS exams had been slashed from 65 per cent and 55pc, to 55pc and 45pc, respectively. There will also be no National Licensing Exam (NLE) requirement for graduates.

It is worth mentioning that the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) had earlier decided that no graduate would be allowed to start practice without clearing the NLE. The decision had triggered unrest among students, and they had held protests outside the PMC and across the country.

Mr Patel acknowledged that each province has a different curriculum but noted that the MDCAT is administered at the federal level.

He said a portal would be provided on the PMC website for two weeks, through which students will be given a choice to decide from which province they want to sit for the MDCAT. However, he could not provide any details regarding the arrangement, saying the procedure would be decided and announced in a few days.

It is worth mentioning that around 200,000 candidates have applied to sit for the MDCAT and have also paid the fee for it. Some candidates expressed confusion over the announcement, asking how their fee would be transferred to another province if need be.

The minister also announced that the nine-member PMC governing body had on Wednesday elected a chairman.

Mr Patel said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had previously withdrawn the names of seven members of the PMC after taking notice of “malpractices” in the authority.

“A search committee for members of the PMC had been established after that, which received around 100 applications. The names of the most capable candidates were forwarded to the premier, and seven members were finally nominated,” Mr Patel said.

The new members are Mr Jawad Amin Khan, Chaudhry Sultan Mansoor, M. Shahhir Kasbati, Prof Dr Noshad Ahmed Sheikh, Prof Dr Naqibullah Achakzai, Dr M Zubair Khan and Dr Khurshid Ahmad Nasim.

Dr Noshad Ahmed Sheikh has been elected chairman of the body.

The PMC has a total of nine members, of which seven are nominated by the PM, and two members — ie, the surgeon general of the armed forces and the secretary, Ministry of Health — are ex-officio members.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2022

Categorized in: