On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed he had “this great feeling” on the beginning of the construction of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and Research Centre in Karachi.
“It will be the biggest cancer hospital in Pakistan as well as being equipped with the latest machines” he continued in a tweet.
It will provide diagnostic and treatment facilities to cancer patients irrespective of their financial backgrounds.
The hospital will be under the auspices of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT). The first hospital of the Trust was inaugured in Lahore in 1994. In 2015, a second hospital was inaugurated in Peshawar. Collectively, they continue to provide financially supported treatment to over 75 percent of cancer patients admitted for treatment each year.
Additionally, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust has Diagnostic Centres, walk-in Clinics and collection centres in over fifty Pakistani cities. The Trust aims to bring cancer care closer to patients.
The SKMT is one of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s philanthropic projects. After the passing away of his mother, Shaukat Khanum, following a battle with cancer in 1985, Imran Khan envisioned building a hospital for poor people who could not afford cancer treatment.
During his cricket career he campaigned for the hospital bringing in support from national and international personalities. Diana, Princess of Wales visited the facility in 1990. The hospital generates its income partially through donations and Zakat.
In 2010, the Shaukat Khanum Diagnostic Centre and Clinic was inaugurated. It was the first SKMT project in Karachi.
The Trust is also building a clinical tower in Lahore to expand its facilities in Lahore. The number of cancer patients continue to increase every year. The World Health Organization states that over a hundred and seventy thousand new cancer cases in Pakistan emerge each year.
Pakistan is a big country and travelling all the way to either Lahore or Peshawar for people who live in the South of the country repeatedly is expensive for those with financial constraints. The Karachi hospital will minimize the travel time and costs for poor patients.
Its construction has commenced in DHA City Karachi on 20 acres of land. It will be a fully-functional cancer hospital, with all clinical disciplines in place, and equipped with the latest technology, including state-of-the-art diagnostic facilities as well as the latest treatment planning and delivery systems.
The hospital will offer surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy facilities to patients.
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The project’s total cost is at Rs. 13 billion and will be completed in three years’ time. It will be the biggest hospital in the country upon its completion, twice the size of the hospital in Lahore at one million square feet of constructed area.
The Karachi SKMH will have forty-seven outpatient examination rooms, a sixty-six-bed chemotherapy facility, four hundred inpatient beds, sixteen operation theatres, and twenty-four intensive care beds.
The ground breaking of the Karachi hospital was initially done in 2016 with aims to complete the project by the end the of 2019. The project was however delayed.
Another hospital in Bahawalpur is planned to be built in DHA Bahawalpur. The city’s central location in the country will make it accessible to a larger population against the concentrated Lahore and Peshawar hospitals in the north and the Karachi hospital in the south of the country.
Prime Minister has shown his commitment towards providing health care facilities accessible to the poor population from years. SKMH is his private project. As Prime Minister, he has worked towards bringing in health care reforms and recently introduced Universal Health Coverage in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.