The Planning Commission has raised serious objections to the establishment of a 500-bed teaching hospital and a medical and dental college at the University of Karachi under the Karachi package announced by former premier Nawaz Sharif during a visit to Karachi.
The commission has sought a clarification as to why a medical and dental college was being established in Karachi where an exclusive medical university -- Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) --was already functioning.
The establishment of a state-of the-art 500-bed teaching hospital and a medical and dental college had been envisaged under the Karachi package during the tenure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at the cost of Rs8.4 billion on a 24-acre plot in Karachi University to serve the people of Karachi and the adjoining areas, including the interior of Sindh, with tertiary medical care facilities and to develop state-of-the-art facilities for researchers and to produce a strong culture of research and development (R&D).
Under the proposal, the university would have to provide 24 acres to the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited (KIDCL), which is undertaking various communication projects under the Rs25 billion Karachi package, to raise a multi-storey building (ground plus three) with a modular design for the establishment of the hospital with the provision of a future expansion to a 1,000-bed facility.
The idea of the establishment of such a large hospital and a medical college, as the per official documents available with The News, was to develop human resource in the field of medical sciences, nursing, paramedical sector, pharmacy and in the field of infectious diseases to meet the national needs, provide teaching facilities to undergraduate, MBBS and BDSW courses, conduct MPhil, PhD and FCPS in basic medical sciences and provide medical facilities to the people of Karachi and the rest of the province.
According to official documents available with the News, during a recent pre-CDWP meeting at the Planning Commission to discuss the proposal, the chief health the Planning Commission, Dr Muhammad Arif, pointed out that PC-1 under consideration was more than eight billion in cost; therefore, it was mandatory to conduct feasibility of the project in the form of PC-II and subsequently PC-1 should be prepared based upon the results and findings of the feasibility report which should be annexed with the PC-1.
Other participants of the meeting, including representative from Physical Planning and Housing Section of the Planning Commission, also observed that various activities of the project (technical as well as civil works) could not be ascertained in the absence of a proper feasibility study.
On the objections by the chief health to the justification of the establishment of a hospital and medical & dental college at the varsity, the sponsors of the project told the meeting that the establishment of the college and teaching hospital was part of the charter and master planning of the University of Karachi and it was therefore included in the PM’s package.
Dr Arif further pointed out that the revenue to be generated by the proposed hospital and college made up only 60 per cent of the total Annual Recurring Expenditure (ARE) of Rs330 million, and the sponsors thus needed to mention about the source (PSDP, ADP or any other) for the rest of 40 per cent ARE in the PC-1 in order to ensure sustainability of the project. The representative from the Economic Appraisal Section commented that ARE should be segregated for the hospital and the college accordingly.
Commission officials also raised objections to the cost of machinery and equipment envisaged to be procured under the project when the chief health observed that the cost of equipment was on a much higher side. He referred to many items of machinery and equipment in this regard, on which the representative of economic appraisal said that the basis of cost estimates should be provided in the PC-1.
Dr Arif also suggested the meeting that specifications of different machinery and equipment to be procured should be provided in order to ascertain suitability and price competitiveness and also sought details about Foreign Exchange Component (FEC) requirement for the import of machinery and equipment under the project.
The chief health observed that the medical college and teaching hospital would be established within the premises of the university, which may affect the academic environment; therefore, the sanctity of the university should be kept in mind while devising the project.
Dr Muhammad Asif maintained that the PC-1 of the project in the present form was not fit to be placed before a Central Working Development Party (CDWP) meeting, saying it needed a lot of modification before it could be placed before the next meeting of the CDWP. The modified PC-1 of the project should be based upon a feasibility study which should be presented to the forum in PC-II form, he added.