Pakistani students will now need NOC from PMDC for medical education abroad: officials

M. Waqar Bhatti
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Islamabad: Pakistani students will now need a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to pursue medical and dental education abroad, as many students have been enrolling in colleges and universities that are not recognized in the host countries, officials said on Monday.

In addition to the requirement of an NOC from the PMDC, ‘some other checks’ are also under consideration to ensure that Pakistani students receive medical and dental education only at recognized educational institutions abroad, officials in the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) told The News.

Without an NOC from the PMDC, no Pakistani student will be allowed to go abroad for medical education from now onwards. A decision in this regard has already been taken by the Council of PMDC and it will effective from session 2024, an NHS,R&C official said, adding that other measures are also being considered to prevent Pakistani students from being lured into substandard medical and dental educational institutions.

According to official data, around 3,000 students go abroad each year for medical and dental education, with the majority going to China, followed by Central Asian states and Afghanistan.

China is the most popular country for Pakistani students seeking medical and dental education, followed by Central Asian states such as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, as well as Afghanistan. Pakistani students also go to Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Malaysia, Turkey, Iran, and Eastern European countries like Romania for medical education, the official claimed.

The official stated that there are currently around 15,000 to 18,000 students receiving medical and dental education abroad, and it is estimated that approximately 300 million US dollars are being spent annually on their education in these countries.

On average, each family pays around 5,000 to 6,000 US dollars annually for medical and dental education abroad. Although no official data is available, it is estimated that over 300 million US dollars are spent annually on medical and dental education abroad, the official claimed.

The health ministry official further claimed that many students enrolled in medical and dental programs abroad are attending substandard institutions that do not provide adequate clinical exposure.

Upon completion of their degrees, these students are required to do their house jobs in Pakistan rather than in the host countries. When these students return to Pakistan, they must pass the National Licensing Examination to be eligible to practice medicine or pursue specialized medical education. Unfortunately, the majority of foreign-qualified medical and dental students fail to pass the national licensing exam, the official claimed.

The official added that language is a significant barrier for Pakistani students, as medical education in countries like China, Russia, and Central Asian Republics is conducted in the host countries’ national languages. This language barrier makes it difficult for Pakistani students to pass their exams.

In response to a query, the official stated that there were around 21,000 students enrolled in 185 public and private medical and dental colleges in Pakistan for the academic year 2023-24, and that Pakistani medical institutions are producing more doctors than the required number of physicians and surgeons in Pakistan.

At present, our medical and dental colleges are producing a sufficient number of doctors and dentists, so there is no need to go abroad for medical and dental education. However, approximately 3,000 students still go abroad annually for medical and dental education, 30 percent of whom are females, he added.