PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has renamed the 110-bed Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital Swat as Swat Kidney Hospital.

The decision has already stirred controversy as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has threatened to launch protest against it.

“The provincial cabinet has approved a summary to rename NSKH because according to the law a public sector entity cannot be named after living persons,” government’s spokesman Kamran Bangash told Dawn.

He said that the decision to rename the hospital was apolitical as law did not allow naming facilities after people, who were alive.

PML-N threatens to launch protest against the move

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s decision has already triggered political controversy as former finance minister Ishaq Dar in his reaction tweeted that NSKH had been built on donations not from national kitty.

“If Nawaz Sharif’s name is removed from the hospital, then Prime Minister Imran Khan couldn’t escape the change of name of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital that was also constructed through donations,” he said.

The facility, built by Punjab Trust Hospital (PTH) at a cost of Rs800 million, was inaugurated by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in May 2016. PTH had also pledged to bear its operational cost till 2019 but backed out of its commitment and the provincial government continued to pay its running expenses since its inauguration.

Officials said that in 2013, the provincial government had agreed to PTH’s proposal of providing one-time grant for construction of the hospital and procurement of equipment in addition to paying for operational cost for three years after which it would be given to the health department.

They said that provincial health department sent several reminders to PTH regarding the operational cost but to no avail and subsequently the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government began paying salaries of staff besides bearing expenses of medicines and maintenance and utility charges.

“There are about 300 staffers including specialists, doctors, nurses, paramedics and Class-IV employees. It caters to the needs of patients with kidney-related ailments from entire Malakand division,” said officials.

To construct the facility, the government had demolished the building of Civil Hospital Manglowar, Swat. NSKH was built over 32-kanal of land owned by the provincial government. Promises by government to build a civil hospital in the area never saw light of the day.

“The hospital has 40-bed urology and 40-bed nephrology units that provide all sorts of services including free surgeries at three state-of the-art operation theatres for renal diseases,” said officials. They added on average, 90 dialysis were conducted at the facility which had also ICU and HDU to cope with seriously-ill patients.

“The hospital was supposed to provide 24-hour services to the patients but it operates only in the morning shift. After 2pm, the patients are checked by medical officers,” they said.

They said that there was no accommodation for doctors, nurses and paramedics due to which it was difficult to run the hospital round-the-clock. The facility has four positions of senior registrars, two each for nephrology and urology, and eight specialists.

Officials said that notification regarding renaming of the hospital would soon be issued.

The health facility is affiliated with Saidu Group of Teaching Hospitals Swat for academic purpose. It is an autonomous facility and operates directly under health secretary.

Doctors at the hospital said that it had been named after Nawaz Sharif because of his commitment to run it for at least three years. He didn’t fulfil the pledge he had made and the provincial government was required to upgrade it because it was a ray of hope for patients, who had to travel to Peshawar for dialysis and other surgeries related to kidney ailments, they added.

Kamran Bangash said that the government was keen to provide better services to the people. “We have been striving to give free health services to the patients. This hospital would be further developed,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

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