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Debate on gender imbalance in medical colleges

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday debated with concern that admission of more girl students to medical colleges in the province was resulting in wastage of huge funds because a large number of girls did not practice after getting MBBS degrees.

Parliamentary Secretary on Health Dr Saeed Elahi calmly replied to the objections from both sides of the divide on the issue.

Replying to a supplementary question by PML-N’s Nighat Sheikh, Mr Elahi said after the Supreme Court decision (on open merit admissions) 70 per cent of seats in medical colleges went to girl students every year. But, according to the University of Health Sciences, only 30 to 35 per cent of them worked as doctors.

He said the time limit for filing a review petition against the court ruling regarding the admissions had lapsed, but still a petition was being prepared.

When asked by Sheikh Allauddin, Mr Elahi said that in view of poor strength of boys, the government intended to increase the number of seats in medical colleges to 4,000 next year.

He said every country was facing shortage of doctors. The UHS, he said, was also allowing practice to those who had obtained MBBS degrees from China, Eastern Europe and Russia after a strict scrutiny.

PPP’s Ashraf Sohna also opposed the increased number of admissions to girl students but PML-Q’s Dr Samia Amjad favoured it. “Why don’t you mention male doctors who were leaving the country which spent millions of rupees on their education.”

When some members demanded that boys be admitted to Lahore’s Fatima Jinnah Medical College as well to maintain a gender balance in the medical community, Mr Elahi said the FJMC was meant for girls only who were shy of studying in the co-education system.

Responding to a question by PML-N’s Rana Afzal, Mr Elahi said CT Scan machines could not be installed in every medical facility in districts because of financial constraints.

To questions by PML-N’s Khwaja Muhammad Islam regarding the vacant seats of technical staff in hospitals of Faisalabad, he said this was due to non-availability of qualified people. However, the government was trying to get the required manpower by giving training to people. Those having required qualification were also reluctant to join government service because of low salaries.

When asked by the member as to how the hospitals in Faisalabad were operating without staff like angiography technicians and generator operators, Mr Elahi said the PIC in Lahore was sharing its staff with them twice a week.

Sheikh Allauddin asked as to why the government had recently allowed 400 doctors work abroad when it was facing their shortage. The parliamentary secretary said the permission was given only to those doctors whose number was in access in their field of specialisation.

To a question by PML-Q’s Seemal Kamran, he said the government wanted to improve the lots of pharmacists and for that purpose it had decided to give them non-practicing allowance besides allowing them internship in hospitals like house jobs for doctors.

Meanwhile, Mr Elahi promised action against staff of the Sargodha DHQ Hospital when a member mentioned the death of a boy because of lack of care and medicines in its emergency ward.

The speaker disallowed PPP’s minority member Najmi Saleem discuss demolition of a church in Garhi Shahu by the Punjab government. “You can talk on the issue during debate on a related adjournment motion already moved in the house,” he said.

Responding to an adjournment motion by his party’s Mian Rafiq, the minister said action against 4,219 vehicles using substandard CNG cylinders had been taken, and the government would check all those using it to ensure safety of people.

The speaker said this would be done after the mover demanded that public transport using comparatively low cost CNG cylinders should be asked not to charge fares as per the high priced diesel.

The speaker disposed of a number of adjournment motions because of the absence of their movers despite a plea by Chaudhry Zaheer that the law minister should at least be allowed to reply to them as per the assembly rules.

Source: Dawn