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PESHAWAR: Lack of proper health care facilities has been hampering the treatment of children as three projects for providing specialised pediatric services are yet to be completed in the province. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the country’s only province where children hospitals are virtually nonexistent.

The construction of Benazir Bhutto Children Hospital, Mardan, was started in September 2011 and it was scheduled to begin operations in September 2014. However, there are still no signs of its launch anytime soon despite the passage of seven years. Its cost was Rs2.16 billion, which has now gone up.

The 288-bed hospital over 40 kanals located in Mardan Medical Complex has been designed as state-of-the-art institution with almost all specialties such as paeds, cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, gastroenterology, paeds surgery, etc. It was supposed to cater to the needs of children in Mardan and adjacent districts.

Paediatrics association asks govt to complete children hospital projects

Same is the case of Women and Children Hospital, Charsadda, as it has yet to be made operational despite its completion two years ago. It was completed at the cost of Rs1.5 billion. Lack of attention by the government to start the 200-bed facility is resulting in wastage of expensive equipment. Non-appointment of staff is delaying its start.

The facility was supposed to provide services to women and children, and it had been decided by the health department to shift the gynaecology unit from the DHQ hospital, Charsadda, to the new facility which is still awaited.

The Khyber Institute of Child Health (KICH) along with its affiliated Children Hospital in Peshawar is lying useless despite launch of its construction 10 years ago.

A federal government’s project, KICH has been designed to promote preventive, curative and rehabilitation services besides imparting training to doctors and health workers. However, it has not started work for want of funds.

Japan and USAID have sanctioned $20 million and $35 million grants, respectively, owing to the best design of the facility. The USAID has provided Rs750 million high-tech equipment and kits to the institute initially, but the government failed to allay security concerns of both the donors due to which the project couldn’t take off.

Built over 20 kanals in Hayatabad the Children Hospital is located adjacent to KICH, which had been established in a building vacated by an NGO in 2007. The federal government had pledged Rs2.2 billion in 2009 of which only Rs700 million in parts had been released so far.

KICH, which caters to training needs of health professionals, has started low level activities, but the 200-bed hospital is unlikely to be completed as scheduled in June 2019 because of funds shortage. It required about Rs500 million per year while the centre has released only Rs50 million so far. Its cost has now soared to over Rs3 billion as the hospital is required to house 17 super specialties. It has been given to the Hayatabad Medical Complex to govern it.

In 1983, Saudi Arabia and UK had provided grants for construction of a women and children hospital in Peshawar, but it was converted into a general hospital – Hayatabad Medical Complex – after its completion.

KP Paediatrics Association says there are only 300 beds for children in periphery hospitals, which show apathy of the authorities towards 10 million children of the province. The association wants the government to show interest in children hospitals and complete the related projects. Of the 5,000 beds in teaching hospitals of the province only 300 are reserved for children.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018