ISLAMABAD: The city’s first state-of-the-art cancer hospital has come back to life, as Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal announced on Thursday that the project, scrapped by the previous government, would be revived.

Reacting to a news story describing the events why the hospital project was shelved, the minister said in a Twitter post: “The project will be revived Insha’Allah.”

The 200-bed cancer hospital project was approved during the last PML-N government, which also sanctioned Rs5 billion for it under the Public Sector Development Programme.

However, the hospital, aimed at benefiting 7,000 poor patients a year, was scrapped by the PTI government in January 2019.

The project was fully ready for launch and the Public Works Department even prepared the building design and allocated space for it in the city’s largest Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) premises.

Project had been scrapped by previous PTI govt in Jan 2019, says minister

Besides, maps were also approved and consultants were also hired for the project. However, the project was later shelved under the direction of former prime minister Imran Khan, a statement issued by the planning division claimed.

Mr Iqbal has said the previous government had shelved several public interest projects initiated by the PML-N due to political reasons, adding to people’s suffering. However, he said the incumbent government would revive all the pending projects “in the best interest of the public”.

“Our top priority is to facilitate the public by reviving the pending projects,” he said.

The country has 27 cancer treatment centres, a figure experts deem insufficient given the high number of cancer patients.

Medical experts say Pakistan is facing a severe shortage of cancer treatment facilities and only 10,000 to 15,000 patients a year can be treated.

The World Health Organisation has also said facilities for treating cancer patients in Pakistan are inadequate.

According to the Health Research Institute, the state-run health statistics agency, about 2.5 million new cancer cases emerge in the country annually and 100,000 patients lose their lives to the disease.

MRI machines for hospitals Meanwhile, during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services on Thursday, the health ministry assured that hospitals in the federal capital would be provided with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines at the earliest.

The meeting was chaired by PTI Senator Humayun Mohmand. Representatives from the health ministry, Islamabad’s District Health Officer Dr Zaeem Zia and others also attended.

The Senate committee was informed that four companies had shown interest in providing MRI machines.

Representatives of Polyclinic Hospital noted that the hospital was going to get the MRI machine after 50 years and it was a huge achievement for them.

Senator Mohmand directed the health ministry to speed up the acquisition to facilitate Islamabad’s residents at the earliest.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2022

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