PESHAWAR: The provincial chapter of Pakistan Paediatrics Association has pinned hopes on the incumbent government for completion of Khyber Institute of Child Health (KICH) and its affiliated Children Hospital that remained in limbo for more than 12 years.

The PPA office-bearers say that they met Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and informed him about the delay in completion of the project that was started by the federal government in 2007. Besides PPA representatives, the meeting was also attended by the senior paediatricians including Prof Ashfaq Ahmad Khan, Prof Abdul Hameed, Prof Amin Jan Gandapur, Prof Sabir Khan, Prof Afzal Khattak, Prof Aqeel and Dr Bawar Shah.

The PPA representatives told Dawn that they told the chief minister that 85 per cent construction work at KICH was completed but the slow-paced progress was hampering its completion due to lack of funds. The chief minister ordered formation of a committee with relevant senior doctors as its members to furnish proposals for speedy completion of the hospital.

The PPA also demanded separate Board of Governors for KICH to complete it in the shortest possible time and pave the way for promotion of child health services in the province.

Lack of funds delays the project launched in 2007

Prof Abdul Hameed, the former head of child health department at Khyber Medical College and Khyber Teaching Hospital, designed KICH to promote child health facilities in the province. KICH has not been receiving the desired funds that hampered its completion. KICH is meant to promote child health facilities through preventive, curative and rehabilitation services in the province besides imparting training to doctors.

Sources said that even the Government of Japan had approved a grant of $20 million and the US had pledged $35 million for the project. They added that the ANP-PPP coalition government removed project director Prof Abdul Hameed that deprived the province of the huge grant by both the countries.

Initially, the US had provided high-tech equipment and kits worth Rs750 million to the institute while the government’s inability to ensure security of Japan’s representatives, who wanted to visit the city frequently, was also a major cause of loss of the financial support, sources said.

They said that Japan wanted to complete KICH and hand it over to health department but the government wanted to get cash funds and do everything on its own which was not acceptable for the donor. Bureaucratic hurdles were also a big issue, they added.

The Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal government had allotted a 20-kanal piece of land for Children Hospital adjacent to KICH, which had been established on a building vacated by a French NGO and Rs500 million was allocated for renovation of the building in 2007.

After vanishing of hopes about grants by donors, the federal government, which had pledged Rs2.209 billion in 2009 for the project, didn’t release appropriate funds to complete the scheme within five years.

KICH is the academic wing of twin phase project, while the 300-bed. Children Hospital was supposed to be completed in 2018. It was to offer 17 of the child health specialties. Additionally, KICH was to provide under-graduate and postgraduate training to doctors and train nurses and paramedics in child health.

The PPA office-bearers say that they pinned hopes on the present government to complete the project. All provinces, except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have dedicated hospitals for children but the children of this province have to be shifted outside for specialised treatment.

They said that Prof Abdul Hameed, who was the only project director in the health department and worked without salary, car and other facilities, was removed at a time when he was getting grants for the scheme.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2021

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