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Race on for setting up two medical colleges in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD, Jan 18: Two public hospitals – Polyclinic and Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) – are vying for setting up their medical colleges in the capital, Dawn has learnt.

As the government will fund the medical college of Pims, the Polyclinic’s administration plans to establish its ‘Capital Medical College’ on the basis of public-private partnership (PPP).

Polyclinic, previously known as Federal Government Services Hospital, was established in 1966 to provide health care facilities for the federal government employees. Set up in 1985, Pims is a post graduate teaching hospital.

An official of the health ministry told Dawn that the initiative of Polyclinic has been taken at the behest of federal Health Minister Makhdoom Shahbudin. “The minister wants to see a medical college at Polyclinic,” said the official.

But Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had already approved the establishment of Federal Medical College (FMC) at Pims. A committee headed by Khusnood Lashari, former federal health secretary, had interviewed almost 200 physicians for the 30 posts in the FMC.

The Pims medical college will be set up on an area of 10 acres at the National Institute of Health (NIH), as its recognition process is under way at Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.

However, the efforts for setting up two medical colleges in the capital city are seen with concern. “Good medical colleges are needed across Pakistan, but it’s not prudent to have two federally-funded medical colleges in close vicinity without supporting ancillary services,” says Prof Athar Niaz Rana, a faculty member at private medical college.

Dr Sharif Astori, spokesman for Polyclinic, doubted the Pims’ preparation. “Pims management cannot establish a medical college as it’s just on papers. But we can, as the health ministry is interested in developing a medical college at Polyclinic.” He reiterated the fact that the health minister wanted to have the Capital Medical College in Polyclinic, but added that the “name is not final”. Dr Astori believes a medical college at Polyclinic will help improve the patient care.

Asked about the faculty hiring, he said: “We will do that once the modalities are final with our partner.”

For Dr Asad Hafeez, director general health, the proposed Pims’ college was very much in the pipeline as Mr Lashari personally looked after all its work.

He said Dr Jahanzb Aurkzai is the focal person for the college. Dr Hafeez did not agree with the assertion that the Polyclinic’s move was to generate finances and ruled out the fear that patient care would suffer. “Public-private partnership is followed to improve standard of hospitals. The patient care will not be affected at all.”

Dr Hafeez said the Railway Hospital Rawalpindi was now managed better after it was converted into a medical college through public-private partnership “It is now working far better after the PPP initiative.” He rejected the impression that there was a standoff between the two hospitals’ management over setting up medical colleges.

Source: Dawn

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