KARACHI: The much-awaited Benazir Bhutto Accident, Emergency and Trauma Centre was officially inaugurated by Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) on Wednesday.
After the inauguration, Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah visited various parts of the facility and were briefed on its overall utility.
The 14-storey ‘state-of-the-art’ trauma centre is first of its kind established by the government where a wide assortment of facilities have been put together to offer one-window operation to the public in emergency situations.
‘Similar trauma centres will be set up in other districts of Sindh’
“This is a huge comfort for citizens of Karachi and a gift by our chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari,” said the chief minister while speaking to the media.
He said his government was determined to provide more and more health care facilities to the people and similar trauma centres would be set up in other districts of Sindh.
The construction of the trauma centre witnessed prolonged delays, obstacles in release of funds and contingency hiccups before it was finally completed three years later than its scheduled time.
The Benazir Bhutto Accident, Emergency and Trauma Centre project was envisaged eight years ago and formally its foundation stone was laid in January 2009.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved the project in a meeting in 2008 with an estimated cost of Rs2.22 billion, but the excessive delays increased the cost twofold.
Originally, the federal government had pledged to share half of the expenditure on the project with the Sindh government, but after providing only Rs362 million, it stopped its funding after the health sector was devolved to the provinces.
The 14-storey building has been constructed to house the trauma centre along with a helipad on the rooftop in which four storeys have been allocated for parking 500 cars and as many motorcycles.
The existing emergency ward of the CHK, along with neurosurgery, intensive care units, critical care units, cardiovascular and maxillofacial and vascular surgery facilities and eye units would be shifted to the trauma centre.
A total of 18 operating theatres would be part of the gigantic building.
Officials said initially facilities in seven stories of the building would be made functional, however, it was still not clear whether the provincial health ministry would run the facility or a separate entity would be formed to run and supervise its day-to-day affairs.
Around 200 employees, including doctors, paramedics and supporting staff are being employed on contract and authorities would soon advertise the vacancies.
The officials said a shortage of funds over the past years led to prolonged stoppage of construction work from time to time.
The CHK management had run out of funds in 2011-12 and nothing was allocated in the following fiscal year.
However, later funds were provided which enabled the authorities to clear outstanding construction bills and make deals for importing air conditioners and chillers.
Referring to the law and order situation in the city and sporadic terrorist attacks, the officials said the trauma centre should have been completed long ago.
This project will provide state-of-art emergency and trauma care facilities to the people.
Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2015