ISLAMABAD, July 11: In another eight years, Islamabad’s biggest public sector hospital, spreading over an entire sector, will outlive its utility, it has been learnt.
The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has been providing services to millions of patients coming from all the provinces for the last 26 years.
According to one official, the mistake of not expanding the hospital rested with the PPP government.
The hospital has an ample space for expansion but plans for the construction of a new multi-storey health tower made during the previous government were not executed by the PPP government.
In 2007, during the tenure of former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, a plan was prepared to construct a 16-storey 500-bed medical health tower on the premises of the hospital at a cost of around Rs2.3 billion. The tower was to complete in three years.
“The project was shelved by the PPP government in June 2008 since it declared that the health tower plan was aimed to benefit the rich and the elite government servants, not the poor,” added a Planning Commission official not wishing to share his name.
He said the tertiary-care hospital was established in 1985 and had seen rapid growth in the number of its departments.
However, no major structures were established for its expansion during this period.
He said the hospital’s idea was conceived in 1960s while the Capital Development Authority outlined a plan for the construction of an inpatient hospital in 1978 and declared Sector G-8/3 as the location for the future expansion of Islamabad Hospital Complex later named as Pims.
“Pims is a two-storey building with a basement but it cannot have an additional storey since its construction is not designed in a manner for expansion,” a senior administration official of the hospital told Dawn.
He added: “We have discussed the additional storey plan with the Public Works Department (PWD) and a few engineering consultancy companies but as per design the hospital building cannot bear the load of an additional storey.”
The Planning Commission official also said the hospital management, headed by Prof Mahmood Jamal, had conveyed to them that additional floors can’t be added to the current structure and a new plan was needed for the hospital’s expansion.
In a recent interaction with Dawn, Prof Jamal had said: “By year 2020 the hospital will outlive its utility. No doubt the structure will stay but we have to find alternative building plans for expansion of the hospital to meet the rising health needs of the citizens.”
“We are in discussion with the Planning Commission and hopefully some major development plan will be approved by the government,” he added.
The Planning Commission official said for the time being referral system needed to be strengthened so to ease the load of the hospital, admitting: “The hospital needs a new mega structure but the cost has already crossed over several billions rupees mark.”
In previous years the cost of construction material and even dollar was very low but because of inflation if the same project is executed now the cost would reach about Rs5 to Rs6 billion mark,” he added.
“The political government has to decide for any mega project since it has to allocate funds for completion of any scheme,” said the official.
Despite repeated attempts, Minister for Capital Administration and Development Nazar Mohammad Gondal could not be contacted for comments.