After being inaugurated by six-year-old Fakhir Afridi, a cancer patient, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital will begin operations from Wednesday (today).
It is the second such facility in Pakistan after the hospital in Lahore. The latter opened its doors in 1994 and is believed to be the first free cancer treatment facility in the world. The aim of the private entity is to provide free treatment to those who cannot bear the expenses to combat the fatal disease.
One in two men at risk of developing cancer: specialist
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairperson Imran Khan, who founded the hospital and named it after his mother, said the objective was to bring change in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and provide a hospital at par with SKMCH.
“If we can build SKMCH, why not government hospitals?” he asked. However, the PTI chief stressed only a true leadership was capable of such an accomplishment.
Imran thanked the Peshawar High Court (PHC) for vacating a stay order obtained by some doctors against the Health Reforms Act 2015. “Wherever resistance will rise, we will ask them why can’t Lady Reading Hospital offer such services as SKMCH?”
Sharing the burden
He said the primary reason behind building SKMCH in K-P was to reduce the burden on the facility in Lahore as 40% patients belong to either K-P or Afghanistan. Imran added it was a herculean task to raise Rs4 billion.
“SKMCH is the only [such] hospital where 70% patients are treated for free,” the cricketer-turned-politician highlighted. “It is a set-up for members of the public who cannot afford cancer treatment locally or abroad.” He pointed out many who were treated at the facility donated back to it.
Imran said the cost to build SKMCH Lahore was Rs700 million and its current balance stands at Rs3.5billion. “Since we treat everyone equally and provide free services, besides other necessities, people donated Rs4billion for SKMCH Peshawar.”
SKMCH Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Asim Yousaf said key departments, including chemotherapy, the inpatient unit, the outpatient clinic, pathology and pharmacy would start functioning from Wednesday (today). He said the Peshawar branch was 33% bigger than the one in Lahore. Yousaf said patients needing radiation or surgey will initially be referred to the Lahore hospital and the facilities would be provided to them upon completion of the second phase in Peshawar.
Beware! E-cigarettes may lead to cancer
According to Yousaf, around 0.2 million new cases were registered annually and 20 such facilities were required to treat all patients. He also thanked former K-P chief minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti for providing land for the facility. Meanwhile, two individuals donated US$25,000 and US$30,000.
Following the suicide attack in Mardan, the Peshawar district government cancelled fireworks to celebrate the opening of SKMCH. City district nazim Muhammad Asim Khan confirmed fireworks were arranged to the hospital’s inauguration through money generated by PTI workers.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2015.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ