LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday surprisingly appreciated the project of Rescue-1122 (Punjab Emergency Services Department), launched and completed in 2006 by former chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, saying that public welfare projects should not be delayed or abandoned for the sake of political mileage.

Mr Sharif also pursued business tycoon Mian Mansha to establish state-of-the-art hospitals with subsidized medical treatment for poor people in all four provinces.

“I think we shouldn’t indulge ourselves in the blame game,” he said after he inaugurated the Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital, constructed by businessman Shahzad Saleem, nephew of Mian Mansha, in the memory of his father.

“But one thing, I tell you that they (the PTI government) did nothing for the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLIRC). I found the project where I left it in May 2018 when a team of experienced doctors successfully carried out five kidney and liver transplant surgeries. Instead of making some positive interventions to strengthen this very important project, they (the previous government) forced the experienced doctors, whom I brought from abroad, to go back.”

Mr Sharif was of the view that public service projects shouldn’t be treated politically.

“When I was the chief minister in 2008, I expanded the network of Rescue 1122 project to all districts of Punjab. I did it since I found the project a good scheme for the people launched and completed by my predecessor. I didn’t do any politics on it, rather I expanded its network,” he maintained.

He urged the political leadership to keep aside their ego, personal issues and differences in the development of the country.

Mr Sharif also asked Mian Mansha to spare Rs4-6 billion for hospitals — one each in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Sindh and Balochistan.

“Sparing such an amount shouldn’t be a big issue for you. You can do it very easily. And I think if this money goes out of your bank account, you may not even notice it,” he said, addressing Mr Mansha.

“And I believe that if you invest Rs6 billion in philanthropy, Allah Almighty will reward you a profit of Rs60 billion for your kindness,” he added. Once Mr Mansha agreed to follow Mr Sharif’s words, the premier appreciated him.

Earlier, the prime minister visited various parts of the hospital built on Mohlanwal Road. He was briefed about the cost of Rs4.5 billion incurred on the project, subsidized medical treatment for deserving patients, and the donations received from the philanthropists.

About the hospital

The Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital is a 350-bed not-for-profit facility, named after Sheikh Muhammad Saleem, who at the age of 73, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and passed away in 2012.

The hospital is a world-class healthcare facility available to the public, irrespective of their ability to pay. Based on a not-for-profit model, the hospital will use donations and income from paying patients to subsidize the non-paying patients and upkeep the facility.

The hospital has variety of clinical programmes and services, such as radiation oncology, cancer care centre, accidental and emergency, medical and allied services, surgical and allied services, operating theatres, surgical intensive care unit, medical intensive care unit, coronary care unit, neonatal ICU, dialysis, endoscopy suites, cardiology, physiotherapy, women and children healthcare, dentistry, radiology, pathology, outpatient, inpatient, pharmacy and executive clinic.

“A profoundly compassionate person, Abbu (my father) believed the only thing that mattered was a person’s heart,” said hospital chairman Saleem.

“He would go out of his way to help anyone in need, monetary or otherwise, irrespective of the person’s status in society. He helped countless people silently and sincerely; nobody was turned back empty-handed. He also built a free school and a hospital in Bhai Pheru to support the local community find access to primary education and healthcare. He lit up the lives of the people nearest and dearest to him, from his children to his grandchildren and his friends. Whatever I know about compassion and generosity, I learnt from him.”

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2022

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