The Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences (Gims) is set to become the country’s first public health facility to provide free-of-charge liver transplants from the first week of February.
A six-member team of German health professionals, including two surgeons, has been assisting the hospital staff for the last month and will remain on the ground for the next two years till Gims’ staff is adequately trained.
Dr Raheem Bux Bhatti, the hospital’s director, informed that the institute has completed preparations to provide good quality treatment to patients, saying, “All is ready now.”
According to health experts, a liver transplant costs at least Rs6 million, and most Pakistani patients prefer to go to India and China for it, which is even more expensive. They said poor patients cannot afford such treatment. “There are number of such patients across the country,” said Dr Bhatti, adding that “I feel we’ll have too much rush as we start it [operations].”
With two operation theatres, the Gims management said they have the capacity to undertake liver transplantation of at least one to two patients. Dr Bhatti said the Sindh government also provides financial help to Gims so it can treat every patient without charging them anything.
The secretary of the Sindh health department, Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo, confirmed plans of starting liver transplantation at Gims and said with the support of German experts, the hospital will be starting operations soon. “There is only one [private] hospital in Islamabad that treats these patients but it is very costly,” he explained.
Mangnejo said the provincial government has provided additional funds to two more institutes, apart from Gims. These include Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation and Dow University of Health Sciences to enhance their capacity so patients can be treated free of charge there. The health official explained that thousands of patients will now be treated at the three facilities. “It is the Sindh government that provides treatment to patients without taking any fees,” he said, hinting at the performance of other provinces.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2016.