In what may be described as yet another goodwill gesture by the Chinese, its Navy hospital ship ‘Peace Ark’ docked at the Karachi Harbour on Monday morning.
The ship will be docked at the harbour for seven days, during which hundreds of patients are expected to be treated free-of-charge.
The’Peace Ark’ is a 300-bed hospital ship with a medical crew of 100 Chinese experts. The ship is fully equipped with the latest machinery including ultrasound, automatic biochemical analysers, anaesthesia, breathing machines and a high pressure sterilisation disinfection machine. The hospital ship consists of 30 specialised medical departments, including cardiovascular, medicine, general surgery, orthopaedics, neurosurgery, dental and blood transfusion. The Peace Ark has 20 intensive care units and eight operation theatres with capacity to perform 40 surgeries simultaneously.
Apart from the Chinese staff, medical specialists from Pakistan Navy will also take part in the free medical camps being held in Karachi. “Pakistan Navy’s staff will assist their Chinese counterparts,” Sub-Lieutenant Rashid told The Express Tribune. He said that the medical team at the ship will work round-the-clock to provide treatment to as many patients as possible.
The Chinese Navy hospital ship, ‘Peace Ark’ docked at Karachi harbour on Monday (above). Chinese medical workers perform a cataract surgery for a 53-year-old Djibouti man aboard the ship in Djibouti. The hospital ship provided medical services for over 1,500 people on its visit to Djibouti last year (below). PHOTO COURTESY: PRESS RELEASE
“Poor patients, especially the residents of coastal areas, will be given priority for treatment. It is excellent news for patients who can’t afford expensive treatments. There will be no charges for surgeries or for any other medical treatments,” he added.
Rashid told The Express Tribune that the ship will stay in Karachi for seven days, adding that surgical patients who will need further observation will be shifted to the naval hospital in Karachi after the departure of the ship.
“Pakistan and China have a very cordial relationship and the ship is travelling to different countries as part of an outreach programme called ‘mission harmony’,” he added.
The ship, prior to reaching Karachi, had visited Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Cuba, Costa Rica, Jamaica among other countries.
Pakistan Navy has also arranged seminars and professional discussions on various medical topics with the specialist teams of Peace Ark for mutual learning and benefit. “It will be of great benefit for the medical staff of the Pakistan Navy,” said Naval Commander Kamran Asif.
Commander Asif informed that three medical camps had been set up -- one near the ship, another at PNS Shifa and a third at PNS Rahat. “Patients will be registered at these camps and then will be moved to the ship for treatment,” he added.
The Express Tribune, however, learnt that, despite the Navy officials’ claims that the programme aimed to largely benefit the poor residents of coastal communities, the campaign was not officially launched in the coastal belt. “We are not aware of such a big medical facility,” said Sami Memon of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum. Memon said that thousands of poor residents, including fishermen, could avail medical facility if camps were set up in the suburban areas in the coastal belt. “Transport issue will be a big hurdle. I appreciate Pakistan Navy’s efforts but would request them to facilitate residents of coastal areas, including those from Thatta and Badin,” he added.
The Pakistan Navy, along with the provincial government, has arranged security arrangements for the ship and its staff. “There is no major security concern but all appropriate measures have been taken in this regard,” said Commander Asif.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.
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