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Pakistan Introduces No-Objection Certificate Requirement for Medical Studies Abroad

ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, Pakistani students aiming to pursue medical and dental studies abroad will now be required to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).

According to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C), the PMDC is contemplating additional measures to ensure that Pakistani students pursue education only at recognized educational institutions. This decision will be effective from the 2024 session, barring Pakistani students from seeking medical education abroad without the necessary clearance.

The move comes amidst concerns over a rising number of students enrolling in institutions not recognized by host countries. Annually, an estimated 3,000 Pakistani students, of whom 30% are women, pursue medical education abroad, with China being the primary destination followed by Central Asian countries, Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, and others.

Currently, approximately 15,000 to 18,000 students are studying medicine and dentistry abroad, with an estimated annual expenditure of $300 million. Despite this investment, many students attend substandard institutions lacking adequate clinical exposure.

Upon completion of their degrees, these students are required to return to Pakistan for their house jobs and must pass the National Licensing Examination to practice medicine or pursue specialized medical education. However, a significant number of foreign-qualified medical and dental graduates reportedly fail to clear the national licensing exam.

Language barriers pose another challenge, as medical studies in countries like China, Russia, and Central Asian Republics are conducted in the host countries’ languages, hindering Pakistani students’ exam success.

In response to these issues, it was noted that Pakistan’s medical and dental colleges produce a surplus of doctors and dentists, rendering overseas education unnecessary. With approximately 21,000 students enrolled in 185 public and private medical and dental colleges in Pakistan for the 2023-24 academic year, the country’s domestic institutions are deemed sufficient to meet healthcare workforce needs.

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