KARACHI: After establishing the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) satellites in different districts, the Sindh government now wants to establish satellite facilities of Child Cancer Care Centres in Sukkur and Hyderabad in order to make the services accessible to the poor.
This was announced by the Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah while talking to a team of Child Aid Association (CAA) led by its President Dr Tariq Shafi at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), where they have established a cancer centre.
The CM was informed that since 1999, the CAA was running the Child Cancer Care Centre at the NICVD where 9,000 cancer patients [children] have been treated so far and 7,000 patients were registered for treatment. It was a three-year treatment course but there was a 7% dropout rate as parents of poor children left the treatment midway due to the travelling expense.
The CM said that he wanted to establish cancer centres for children in Sukkur and Hyderabad. He urged the CAA team, Dr Tariq Shafi, Prof Nizamul Hassan, Dr Salman Burney and others to prepare a detailed plan, including space for hospital, required equipment with their cost and annual operation expenditures so that the plan could be implemented.
The CAA team informed the CM that they were facing shortage of funds to run the centre at NICH. They said that the rupee versus dollar depreciation had enhanced their treatment cost. The treatment of a child under the three-year course costs more than Rs900,000.
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The CM said that his government would financially support the cancer centres and directed the finance secretary to release Rs50 million he had announced for CAA. "You are doing real service for our ailing children, I am with you in your efforts," he assured the CAA team.
The CM, talking to media after the meeting, said that the prices of medicines have escalated due to the depreciation of rupee. The CAA was in need of financial support from the government and philanthropists to continue their noble cause and hence the government was ready to offer them assistance.
Regarding the review petition filed in Supreme Court to take back the administration of three hospitals, the CM said, "I had personally requested the Prime Minister when he visited Karachi to allow the Sindh government to keep the administration of these three hospitals. Now a formal petition has been filed and I am sure the Supreme Court would consider our request." The CM said that he had worked a lot in the uplift of these three hospitals and had given them ample budget and "we feel we can operate them more efficiently," he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2019.