Islamabad;The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has passed an order imposing a total penalty of PKR 22.5 Million on three medical and dental colleges for violating Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010 by fraudulently claiming recognition by the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) and offering admissions to students for 2013-2014 sessions.
CCP conducted an enquiry into allegations of deceptive marketing practices, after the PMDC in its press release named twenty-two private medical and dental colleges, which had failed to meet its registration criteria for 2013-2014 and were therefore either not recognised, or had restrictions placed on offering admissions for the sessions 2013-2014. The CCP’s enquiry not only aimed to implement its mandate, but also to safeguard the interests of thousands of students enrolled in medical and related courses and save the lives of millions of citizens to be affected by the unrecognised medical education.
The enquiry found eight of the 22 institutions named by PMDC to have misrepresented their recognition by PMDC through their websites, and omitted to communicate the restriction on their admissions for the year 2013-14, thus violating Section 10 of the Competition Act. These eight medical institutions include: Pak Red Crescent Medical & Dental College, Lahore, Mohiuddin Islamic Medical College, Mirpur (AJK), Abbottabad International Medical College, Abbottabad, Independent Medical College, Faisalabad, Women Medical College, Abbottabad, Hashmat Medical & Dental College, Gujrat, Bhittai Medical & Dental College, Mirpurkhas Sindh, (BDS), and AJ&K Medical College, Muzaffarabad – AJ&K.
The order imposed a penalty of PKR 7.5 Million each on Bhittai Medical & Dental College Mirpurkhas, Women Medical College Abbottabd, Pak Red Crescent Medical & Dental College Lahore for violating Section 10 of the Competition Act in view of the timings of their advertisements about offering admissions for 2013-2014 despite being restricted by PMDC. No penalty was imposed on remaining Medical & Dental Colleges due to lack of evidence but they were strongly cautioned against advertising their recognition by PMDC when that recognition is either suspended or cancelled.
The order stated with reference to the observations in the enquiry report that in Pakistan there is not even one doctor for every 1000 patients as recommended by the WHO, which is an alarming figure and therefore require the essential role of PMDC in ensuring high quality medical education. The institutes that advertise programs in medicine and dentistry without the proper approval of the regulator benefit from the lack of awareness among students about the PMDC’s functions and the value of its accreditation or recognition of a particular institute.
Such deceptive practices not only put the future of students at risk, but unrecognized institutes that continue to teach students may well fall below the teaching standards that are required to be maintained, playing havoc with the lives of potential patients that may seek healthcare services from under qualified doctors that received their education from institutes unrecognized.