Mother and Child Hospital still far from completion –

RAWALPINDI: Another year passed, but the construction work on the 400-bed Mother and Child Hospital on Asghar Mall could not be completed and the project may take one more year for completion.

The project worth Rs2.5 billion was launched in 2005 in the tenure of then military ruler Pervez Musharraf. The then prime minister Shaukat Aziz laid the foundation on April 8, 2005. The project was the brainchild of Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

According to the project, the 400-bed hospital equipped with modern facilities would facilitate the patients of the city and cantonment areas. A nursing school would also be established at the hospital. There was also a plan to establish a chest diseases centre to deal with cases of TB and breast cancer.

However, work on the project was halted soon after the establishment of PML-N government in Punjab in 2008. During the two tenures of PML-N in the province, the work did not start.

Before the 2018 elections, the then chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar visited the site on July 1 and directed the authorities concerned to complete the construction of the hospital within a year.

The construction work started again soon after the PTI government came to power in the centre and Punjab. But despite the passage of two and half years, the project remains incomplete.

The project cost has escalated from Rs2.5 billion to Rs5.25 billion and due to the slow pace of work the project is yet to be completed, said a senior official of Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU).

He said the installation of machinery and construction of operation theatres and hiring of staff and doctors would take more time.

Slow funding from Punjab government is also a reason behind the slow pace of construction work. There is shortage of beds in the gynae wards of three existing government hospitals - Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital.

There are 230 beds in the gynae ward of Holy Family Hospital but mostly 360 to 390 patients are admitted in the ward. The BBH gynae ward has 50 beds but the ward accommodates more than 70 patients at a time. The DHQ hospital has 45 beds that are also always filled by two or three patients on each bed.

Due to this, local residents suffered a lot. Private hospitals cash in on the situation and charge more money from the patients.

When contacted, PTI MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafique, who is also a nephew of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, told Dawn that the project will be completed in six months to a year.

He said at present floor tiles in the building were being fixed. Electronic lifts are also being fixed in the building. He said more than 70pc work has been completed and the remaining work would be completed soon.

He said it was an important project as expecting mothers would get better medical care without any problem. He said that railway minister wanted to complete the project on a priority and was monitoring the work on a regular basis.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2020

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Mother and Child Hospital still far from completion -

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