PESHAWAR, Sept 11: Funds shortage has been hampering construction of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s first full-fledged burns and reconstructive surgery ward at Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC), relevant officials said.

The Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Trauma, Burns and Reconstructive Ward, earlier scheduled to be inaugurated in June 2012, is unlikely to be made operational by June 2014, they said.

They said that construction of the ward was announced in 2009 and it was supposed to begin operations by June 2012. However, indications are that it could face more delay due to the slow construction work and unavailability of funds.

According to the officials, the government so far could complete only 70 per cent of the civil work on the basement and first floor of the ward, as a big chunk of the funds announced from the presidential package in 2009 were yet to be released.

They said that the federal government had so far provided only Rs20 million of the Rs260 million pledged from the President’s Special Fund for Health. The Workers Welfare Board (WWB) had provided Rs600 million to finance the basement and first floor of the 120-bed facility, while the federal government was to provide funds for construction of the second floor.

The construction work on the second floor began in June 2013 instead of November 2011.

Of the Rs20 million allocated by the federal government for construction of the second floor, the works department had spent only Rs5 million while Rs15 million remained unspent. The official said that the government had been arguing that more funds would be released after the already allocated amount was spent.

However, the officials said that the amount announced from the President Special Fund for Health was not lapsable due to which they had been requesting Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to issue instructions to the construction and works department to expedite work on the project.

“It would be the first facility of its kind that will offer treatment to burns and trauma patients and plastic and reconstructive surgery under one roof,” the officials said.

Sources in the health department said that the WWB, which had provided funds for the construction of basement and first floor, was also dragging its feet on the provision of equipment and instruments to the ward. They said that a list of the desired machinery had been sent to the WWB a year ago, but there was no response. The government wanted the WWB to release Rs560 million for machinery because the process of floating tenders, purchase and procurement was a time-consuming exercise and the health department was ready to start it after completion of the building next year.

They said that the health department had sent several reminders to the board in this regard.

Also, the HMC has asked the provincial government to allocate funds for the recruitment of staff and maintenance of the ward in next financial year so it could not face more delay.

Prof Mohammad Tahir, head of the plastic surgery department, told Dawn that they were in contact with the WWB and government to complete its building and ensure provision of the machinery and staff to start the ward from next year.

“The facility will also provide training to doctors in plastic surgery, who could be deployed at district headquarters hospitals,” he said.

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