Famous Anglo-Irish philosopher Jonathan Swift once said, “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” If one wants to understand the significance of these words then, the historic application of some exceptional individual ideas best defines its core.
The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH & RC) in Pakistan is a superb example in this regard, where the legend Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan tirelessly worked to pursue a dream about which many openly expressed their reservations. The inspiration to Imran Khan of this hospital came after the death of his mother, Mrs Shaukat Khanum, from cancer. This extreme sad incident left a huge mark on Imran Khan’s life, which also eventually made him realise that there are thousands in Pakistan, who every year lose their lives because of this monstrous disease, and lack of resources required for its treatment.
From the time of its commencement in 1994, the centre has cured a huge number of patients from all over Pakistan, and a major includes those who had no finances. From December 1994 to December 1999, seventy five per cent of the patients received financial support, and especially over the last fifteen years, the chemotherapy sessions and radiation treatments registered a four-fold increase to 52,843 and 65,759 respectively. The surgical procedures also increased seven times from 1,531 to 13,817 in the same period of time.
These figures are truly phenomenal, and words are less as far as appreciation is concerned. However, the essential point to understand is that a state of the art medical facility is immensely important, not just because it provides treatment but, it acts as a platform where awareness and further research are performed for the purpose it is formed.
Pakistan, at the moment desperately requires medical institutions that are built on modern lines. It is also an apparent and a cruel fact that lack of health facilities with extraordinary capabilities is equally contributing to public woes, due to existing vulnerable health structure.
This is where the formation of Pakistan Kidney & Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLI & RC) in Lahore comes in, as it is made with an amazing concept of providing a state-of-the-art medical facility to the masses, mainly the underprivileged who cannot afford proper liver and kidney treatment.
Why PKLI & RC? This is a very significant question about which ever Pakistan must have a thorough information.
It is extremely essential to understand that apart from cancer, the kidney, bladder, urinary and liver diseases in recent years have become extremely dreadful ailments, and contemporary studies have shown that in Pakistan, 40% of all diseases are directly or indirectly associated with kidney and bladder problems, and only a handful of institutions/hospitals are specialised enough to deal with this challenge.
Hepatitis B and C have transformed into an epidemic. Currently, more than 10 million people in Pakistan are suffering from the viral Hepatitis C, and over 70% of them live in Punjab. More than five million people in Pakistan have Hepatitis B, and over 1.2 million patients need liver transplant with 300,000 among them in dire need. It has also been reported that at present, one out of every eight Pakistani, during his or her lifetime is suffering from these life-threatening ailments. Adding to it are those individuals, who have to visit China or India to have liver transplant as no hospital in Pakistan offers this specific facility.
The agony of losing a loved one is unbearable, but losing a loved one knowing that he or she could have been saved is a feeling that none of us can imagine, unless we experience it. These terrible and nerve-wrecking situations happen on a consistent basis in Pakistan, and on an unacceptable scale. Particularly, the poor people suffer the most due to lack of financial support.
This is where the vision comes in! An envisaging eye that can look at sensitivity of any situation, and equally can devise a roadmap to it.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the medical team in this context, deserve a huge round of applause for conceiving and working on an idea, which eventually is going to save many lives.
The PKLI & RC is going to be another place after SKMCH & RC, where the only priority is to save a life, irrespective of financial status or background. It aims to become a center of excellence in healthcare, which will provide state of the art clinical services initially in Nephrology, Urology, Hepatobiliary surgery, Kidney and Liver transplant, and in other specialized medical fields in near future too. PKLI & RC aims to develop innovative strategies that will address disease prevention, medical care, cutting edge research, medical education and training following international medical and ethical standards. A simple and elegant design with gardens and waterfalls, the PKLI & RC will surely provide a soothing environment for the treatment of kidney and liver diseases, including transplantation.
The first phase of PKLI & RC after its completion will be one of the finest transplant facility in the world, which will not only provide free of cost medical services to the poor, but will also provide employment to some 5,000 persons, including training for doctors, nurses and paramedics.
Construction of the hospital in Lahore is divided into three phases, with its first phase comprising of 100 beds to be inaugurated on 25th December, 2017. PKLI & RC will eventually be a facility with 800 beds (extendable to 1,500 beds), a 100 bed emergency center, a 100 bed ICU, a 100 beds outpatient dialysis facility, 500 bed in-patient facility, 20 operating rooms and 10 same day surgery suites. PKLI & RC is situated on a 60-acre plot in the Lahore Knowledge City in between DHA Phase 6 and Bedian Road.
A great aspect of PKLI & RC is its independent Board of Trustees, which has representation from the government and the private Sector, in order to transparently run affairs of this medical institution.
The significant point to note is that PKLI & RC earlier launched the Hepatitis Prevention and Treatment Program (HPTP) on the World Hepatitis Day, July 28, 2016. HPTP is working closely with the Government of Punjab to wage an aggressive campaign against Hepatitis. The program is not only treating patients suffering from hepatitis, but also working towards removing its risk factors from the society as well. HPTP is working vigorously to achieve its goal, including proper mass vaccination of hepatitis upon birth, infection control & injection safety, education and behavioral changes and effective surveillance system.
Then, on March 19, 2017, PKLI & RC launched its first Hepatitis Prevention and Treatment Clinic (HPTC) on in Lahore. HPTC is the nerve center for HPTP, as the clinic is providing free of cost Hepatitis screening, vaccination and treatment to patients. Also, PKLI & RC has planned to set up 25 satellite clinics across Punjab to cater the growing number of hepatitis patients in these regions. Six clinics of them have already been operational, and more than 1,000 hepatitis patients so far have been provided the required treatment.
Moreover, PKLI & RC is the first hospital in Pakistan to be built on Joint Commission International (JCI) standards, which are the international perimeters laid for quality working of a medical institution. Apart from this, PKLI & RC would be having some of the best trained and highly qualified liver specialists and consultants from USA, UK, Pakistan and other countries.
Truly, it is a moment which calls for celebration as Pakistan internationally will be creating history in the medical field. Once again, it is the masses which ultimately will be benefited the most, and initiatives like these should be highly appreciated because it is about making people realise that they are also living in a developed nation, and need not to look at any other country in difficult times. PKLI & RC like SKMCH & RC, would go down in history as a landmark step, and the Punjab government especially Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif deserve great acknowledgement for initiating this great project. Pakistan Zindabad!