ISLAMABAD: After the longstanding issue of the unavailability of land has been addressed, the National Health Services (NHS) has decided to start work on the first nursing university in Pakistan.

National Health Institute (NIH) Executive Director Dr Aamer Ikram told Dawn the project was facing delays which is why he decided to hand over NIH land to the university.

“We have allocated 237 kanals on the corner of NIH for establishing a university on. There is a link road on that side and so the university will have a separate entrance,” he said.

Possession of land in Chak Shahzad could not be secured, NIH has offered its land for the varsity instead

King Hamad of Bahrain had in 2014 announced that he will provide funding for the university as a gift for the people of Pakistan. It was decided that the Pakistani government will arrange the land and utility services for the university while Bahrain will fund the construction work.

The King Hamad University of Nursing and Associated Medical Sciences was to be established on 237 kanals on Park Road, Chak Shahzad. The university will cater to 2,000 students with 500 annual admissions. Residence will be provided to 1,000 female students at the campus as well.

In July 2016, a delegation from Bahrain led by Dr Sheikha Rana bint Isa bin Daij Al-Khalifa visited Islamabad to finalise the project, which could not be started due to the unavailability of land.

On Jan 6, 2017, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif laid the foundation stone of the university on the site. A number of prominent personalities and dignitaries from Bahrain were also present on the occasion.

However, possession of the land could not be secured and 700 people filed applications with the Capital Development Authority, saying they were owners of the land, which is located in the constituency of former minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

As the project was facing continuous delays, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Sept 2017 decided to hold a meeting on the issue and directed the CADD ministry to address the land issue. Despite this, NHS could not be handed over possession of the land.

Last week, NHS Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani told media persons that possession could not be obtained despite paying for the land and that the new government has therefore decided to construct the university on NIH land.

The matter has been taken up with the authorities in Bahrain so that construction work can be started soon.

“We will not surrender the land as we have paid for it and will start another project on it,” he said.

An NHS official said the project will be built on a turn-key basis.

“There is a soft and hard component of the project. After possession of the land could not be secured, the ministry decided to stop working on the hard component and started working on the soft component which includes curriculum building, technical issues, etc.” he said.

There are more doctors in Pakistan than there are nurses, he said, and that nurses in the country do not have knowledge of recent developments and research work as there are no systems for continuous professional training.

“The university will produce quality nurses and will also train current nurses,” he said.

He said he was not interested in the land in Chak Shahzad.

“However, we will also request the ministry to allow us to establish a health park in NIH which will include walking tracks, a gym, skating facilities and many others,” Dr Ikram said.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2018