Seven years after the burn unit project was launched at the Allied Hospital, the facility has yet to become functional.
According to the hospital administration, 300 to 350 patients with burn injuries are brought to the hospital every month. They are all treated at the emergency ward. Under the standard set by the World Health Organisation, a burn center should be established for a population of every one million. Faisalabad district has more than seven million people and the district lacks a state-of-the-art burn unit.
Medical Superintendent Rashid Maqbool, who is also the focal person for the burn unit, said the foundation stone of the burn unit was laid in 2006 under the tenure of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as the chief minister. The then estimated cost of the project was Rs478 million.
He said Rs260 million had been released by the previous government shortly before the May 11 general elections for the purchase of machinery and other necessary installations at the unit. The hospital administration had formed a committee, headed by the Punjab Medical College principal, to oversee utilisation of funds. He said by the time the government changed, the hospital could utilise only Rs140 million. He said after the elections, the un-utilised Rs120 million was taken back by the Health Department.
He said over the years, the total cost of the project had now gone up to Rs1.32 billion from Rs476 million in 2006.
The bidding rates, he said, had gone up by several millions of rupees.
He said had the previous government released funds shortly after coming into power, machinery and other equipment could be purchased and the project could be completed in the initially estimated amount. The medical superintendent has now demanded that the government issue them funds the hospital is short of so that the burn unit could be made functional soon.
Health Department officials say funds would now be released to the hospitals after the budget.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2013.