Parliamentary Committee on Psychological Council Bill seeks expert opinion

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) on Thursday asked a group of psychologists and psychiatrists to read the Pakistan Psychological Council Bill 2021 and make recommendations for improvement in its content and wording.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Hamayun Mohmand in the Parliament House.

The bill was introduced by Senators Seema Izdi, Khaleda Atib and Mushahid Hussain Syed. MNA Riyaz Fityana, who initially introduced the bill in the National Assembly, attended the meeting as a special invitee and briefed the committee about its aims and objectives.

Mr. Fityana said the bill was introduced in the National Assembly in 2011 after which a committee was formed in which he (Mr. Fitna), Khurshid Shah and Ahsan Iqbal were members.

“It was approved by the committee and later unanimously passed by the National Assembly. Psychology and psychiatry are two professions/fields that are different from each other.

“This bill is only for psychologists, who are the driving force behind it, to regulate this field. The bill will help academics to fix their curriculum,” he said.

The Speaker expressed concern over the Bill and asked whether it would clash with the allied health services.

He again said that he is against the bill and wants to regularize the class of professionals.

Psychologists and psychiatrists invited to the meeting gave their insights on the bill.

The panel of psychologists noted that the term ‘mental health regulation’ had erroneously become part of a paragraph of the bill and needed to be addressed.

Senator Rubina Khalid said the bill should not be passed in haste, adding mental health has become a taboo in society. Appreciating the Bill, he stressed the need to review it carefully before giving it the green light.

Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi suggested that both professionals (psychologists and psychiatrists) should sit together to address differences and shortcomings in the bill.

After detailed discussion, the Speaker postponed the further discussion till the next meeting.

Due to the non-existence of the proposer, the practice of aesthetic medicine by medical practitioners and the grant of relevant diploma/degree/license to them to practice aesthetic medicine as a specialty by the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC)/Islamabad Health Regulatory Authority. The issue of show cause notices to 22 doctors by the recognized field of medical practice and PMC in respect of the matter was also deferred.

Senators Mehr Taj Roughani, Fawzia Arshad, Sana Jamali, Jam Mehtab, Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Sardar Mohd Shafiq Tareen also attended the meeting, while Senator Khaleda Ateeb, Senator Seema Izzadi participated as movers.

Published in Dawn, January 14, 2022