Deemed as Asia’s largest Eye Hospital, Al Shifa establishment has finally announced that the Rawalpindi Eye Hospital has entered its operational phase. The project has been timely completed with a budget of Rs 1 billion, under the supervision of Major General Rehmat Khan. It can cater to 500 outdoor patients per day and up to fifty complex surgeries can be operated on. The hospital is likely to become the best centre for eye care and endorse research and development in its field thanks to the generous donors.
As of now, 16 eye specialists have been hired with state of the art equipment installed. The four-storey building amasses operating rooms, waiting areas, cafes, private and public rooms, offices and all crucial structures for the smooth sailing of daily functions.
An eye cancer department has also been erected. Furthermore, in an interview with journalists, Al-Shifa Trust’s Executive Director retired Brig Rizwan Asghar shared that about 80 per cent of the patients entering the hospital are treated free of cost, and those who can afford should not look abroad anymore as the same facilities are now being offered in Pakistan.
He also emphasized the dire need for awareness in eye care and eye health, stating that parents must get children’s eyes checked from time to time to avoid grave diseases. He added, that statistics indicate that about 20 per cent of school-going children suffer from some eye issue while 5 per cent out of them are usually severe cases. To avoid such delays, he emphasized that babies, in particular, must get their eyes checked and then again before entering school.
Pakistan faces multiple health challenges and in terms of eye health, a report by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IABP) indicated that 7.6 million individuals in Pakistan were visually impaired, while a 2017 report by Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) estimated that 2 million people were living with blindness.
In April 2021, it was reported that incidences of eye cancer are increasing in Pakistan stating that annually up to 2200 people are diagnosed with eye cancer. While government, public and private sectors must join hands to develop healthcare projects, it is also essential to eradicate the root causes of most of these diseases that are embedded in our social system that is dominated by poverty and lack of education/awareness. Multiple annual reports on Pakistan by UNICEF indicate that majority of health issues entail maternal and childhood malnutrition, which is usually an outcome of poverty. For Pakistan to develop a healthy workforce, the government will have to put a multifaceted approach in targeting these problems.
It is a moment of pride for Pakistan nevertheless. More awareness of health issues will lead people to identify their problems and then seek the solutions that are now available within their country. The hospital is the largest in its capacity, and hopefully, it will gain recognition for its expertise as well.