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Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries reject Pakistani postgraduate degree in medicine, sack MS and MD doctors from Pakistan

Doctors blame Pakistan's regulatory bodies like CPSP for distorting facts about Pakistan’s university programme to maintain the monopoly of the CPSP-sponsored 'Fellow of College of Physicians and Surgeons' (FCPS) programme

In what seems to be another instance of global rejection of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have rejected Pakistan’s century-old obsolete postgraduate degree programme in medicine — MS (Master of Surgery) and MD (Doctor of Medicine), while removing it from the eligibility list of the highest-paid tier, reports Dawn.

Reportedly, the decision by Saudi Arabia to downgrade Pakistani doctors comes after the Saudi Ministry of Health claimed that Pakistan medical education lacked a structured training programme, which is a mandatory requirement to hire medics in important positions. After the Saudi move, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also took a similar step.

The decision has now rendered hundreds of Pakistan doctors in middle-east jobless. Most of these now unqualified doctors who stay in Saudi Arabia are now asked to be ready for deportation.

“Your application for professional qualification has been rejected. The reason is that your master degree from Pakistan is not acceptable according to the Saudi Commission for Health Specialities (SCFHS) regulations,” reads a letter given to the Pakistani doctors.

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Reportedly, most of these doctors were hired by a team of the Saudi health ministry in 2016 when it conducted interviews in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad after inviting applications online.

According to the Pakistan doctors, the decision by Saudi Arabia is a huge shame for them as the same degree programme offered by India, Egypt, Sudan and Bangladesh is acceptable in Saudi Arabia and other countries.

After facing severe humiliation in Saudi Arabia, the doctors and the senior health officials of Pakistan have now blamed the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) for damaging their career.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) is a public regulatory college in Pakistan which oversees the postgraduate medical education. The CPSP offers certifications for postgraduate training in the specialities of medicine, surgery and dentistry.

Dr Asad Noor Mirza, the spokesperson for the Association of University Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, said that the decision was a setback for Pakistan’s major degree qualification and disrespect to the highly qualified cream of the nation.

He too blamed Pakistan’s regulatory bodies like CPSP for distorting facts about Pakistan’s university programme to maintain the monopoly of the CPSP-sponsored ‘Fellow of College of Physicians and Surgeons’ (FCPS) programme. This is a postgraduate diploma awarded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) upon completing specialized training.

Dr Ali Usman, another affected medic, said, “I had done five-year postgraduate qualification from the University of Health Sciences, Lahore, with training from Lahore General Hospital. But all of a sudden the Saudi health ministry terminated my job contract, landing me and my family in immense shock.”

When Usman had contacted Director-General of Collaboration Department, Saudi Arabia, he was told that his qualification was rejected when the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) delegation had informed the authorities that there was no training-based post-graduate medical degree in Pakistan, except FCPS. He said the CPSP had misled the SCFHS ignoring the fact that Pakistan’s university degree qualification was a structured training programme.

The Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS) is a Saudi Arabian scientific commission that regulates healthcare-related practices and accreditation at all levels in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi authorities had further said that the CPSP president held multiple meetings with relevant officials in Saudi Arabia and asked the authorities to consider only SCHFS qualified Pakistani medicals for jobs here.

University of Health Sciences Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Javed Akram dismissed the impression that the MS/MD programme was not a structured training qualification.

“The MS and MD degrees are enriched with dynamic, congruent and structured curriculum comprising clinical and research component at par excellence of international standards designed by the World Federation of Medical Education,” Akram said.

He said the University of Health Sciences and many senior medical experts from all over the country had recently taken up the issue of termination of jobs of Pakistani medics and also talked to the SCFHS.

However, Prof Dr Ghulam Mustafa Arain, the Dean (academics) of the CPSP, rejected the allegations levelled by the affected doctors and blamed the affected doctors instead.

He said the CPSP representatives had been promoting FCPS qualification during visits abroad to create a good image of Pakistan in the field of medical education. However, he added that the CPSP cannot think of degrading any medical education programme of Pakistan abroad.

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