No service: Nipa General Hospital remains a distant dream

It has remained under construction for the past seven years

Tufail Ahmed May 04, 2020
Representational Image PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: With over Rs 1.75 billion spent on the project and the city teetering on the edge of a burgeoning healthcare crisis, the provincial government has remained unable to initiate the 400-bed Nipa General Hospital despite its growing need.

The three-storey building constructed with taxpayer money on prime real-estate between Nipa Chowrangi and Urdu University, has been sitting idle since its inception during the tenure of Karachi's former nazim Mustafa Kamal. Prior to that, in 2004, under former mayor Nematullah Khan, the site was set aside for the construction of a public library on official papers. However, the building although constructed, stands as nothing but an inutile edifice today.

It is imperative to mention that while there are several government hospitals present in the city’s southern district including those in Orangi, Korangi, Liaquatabad, Saudabad and Ibrahim Haideri, there exists no public healthcare facility to cater to the thousands of people living in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and adjoining areas. Resultantly, the people have no choice but to pay hefty sums at private hospitals and clinics which have taken over these areas in the absence of a government facility.

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Furthermore, not only did the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government fail to establish the fully functional 400-bed hospital, sources reveal the hospital’s name was also quietly changed to Trauma Orthopedic Institute and Rehabilitation Center. “The decision which came under approval of the provincial cabinet, was taken in order to hand the hospital to a retired professor from a government hospital as political favour,” the source informed.

The former Nipa General Hospital, was announced some 10 years ago to provide general medical facilities the people of Gulshan-e-Iqbal. “Later, the Sindh government abruptly reversed its decision and appointed an orthopedic surgeon who had retired from Jinnah Hospital, as the project director. With his appointment, the project was shifted from a general hospital to an autonomous trauma orthopedic institute and rehabilitation center overnight. Furthermore, it was suggested that the proposed institute would now be limited to only catering to broken bone treatments and providing physiotherapy.”

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The Trauma Orthopedic Institute and Rehabilitation Center covers more than 4,000 yards, while its three-storey building which as per previous plans of a general hospital includes all required departments such as gynecology and orthopedics, has remained under construction for the past seven years, due to some non-released funds by the provincial government.

In addition to that, it is learned that the provincial government had approved the ADP scheme for the construction of the Nipa General Hospital in Gulshan-e-Iqbal some seven years ago. It was said that due to lack of government healthcare facilities in the area, a General Hospital would be constructed to provide treatment to the residents of Gulshan-e-Iqbal and adjoining areas.

Therefore, the Health department approved the scheme of a 400-bed hospital at Nipa Chowrangi and included it in the ADP scheme 2010-11 with the allotment of space. However, the construction work of the hospital could not be completed in a decade’s time despite billions in expenditure; leaving the partially constructed building to stand as a glum reminder of the inadequacies of Sindh’s healthcare system.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2020.

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