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Karachi

September 14, 2017

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Sindh provides Rs300m to private hospital for bone marrow transplants

Sindh provides Rs300m to private hospital for bone marrow transplants

After wasting millions of rupees on the establishment of a bone marrow transplant (BMT) centre in the public sector, the Sindh government provided Rs300 million to a private hospital in Karachi on Wednesday for performing around 100 BMT procedures on needy and deserving patients.

“Today, the Sindh government has given Rs300 million to the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) Karachi for conducting bone marrow transplant of needy and deserving patients, whose families could not afford this costly treatment,”

Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro said at a ceremony to hand over a cheque of the grant to NIBD Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Tahir Sultan Shamsi. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto was supposed to make the announcement of free bone marrow transplants in the province in collaboration with the private sector after handing over the government grant to the NIBD, but due to his engagements and in the absence of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the grant was delivered to the private hospital through the health minister.

The federal and Punjab governments are already providing millions of rupees to the NIBD Karachi for bone marrow transplants in the city for their deserving and needy patients. While the federal government does not have any such facility, the Punjab government has, however, successfully established its own BMT centre at the Children’s Hospital Lahore with the help the NIBD and its entire staff, including surgeons, nurses and paramedics, had been trained at the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) by a team of Dr Tahir Sultan Shamsi and his colleagues. 

Bone marrow transplant is a sophisticated treatment for patients suffering from blood diseases like thalassaemia, various types of leukemia or blood cancers and other blood disorders in which their faulty or diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy marrow from a donor and it roughly costs Rs5 million in the private sector.

As many as 10,000 need bone marrow transplants in Pakistan annually, but hardly 200 of them manage to avail this treatment facility due to its higher cost as only a few private hospitals in the country are capable of performing this procedure. None of the public sector hospitals is offering this service free of charge to patients anywhere in the country.

Health Minister Mandhro praised the NIBD, its chief, Dr Tahir Sultan Shamsi, and his team, and said they were doing a great service for the ailing humanity by treating blood disorders. He vowed to continue supporting the institute in future.

“I’m thankful to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for giving this grant to the NIBD and I would request him to allocate money in the provincial on an annual basis for the NIBD so that it could continue BMT procedures every year of the needy and deserving patients.”

In replying to a question, the minister said patients would not be discriminated against on the basis of race, cast, ethnicity and language, saying the provincial government would provide this treatment facility to every deserving patient.

He said a medical board comprising health experts and NIBD officials would assess the needs of patients and decide on the basis of the nature of the disease and their financial condition perform the BMT procedure with the government’s grant.

NIBD CEO Dr Tahir Sultan Shamsi thanked the government, especially Dr Mandhro, for the generous grant and vowed that this money would be spent on the treatment of 90-110 deserving patients.

“The federal government and the government of Punjab are already giving us huge grants for conducting BMTs free of cost to patients recommended by them and now the Sindh government has also given us Rs300 million, which would be used for BMT treatment of around 100 patients” in a year, he said.

According Dr Shamsi, the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Centre at the Children’s Hospital Lahore had been made functional after Punjab’s HOTA allowed them to perform the procedures after visiting the facility. He said first BMT at the Children’s Hospital Lahore would be performed in this month.

Another eminent BMT surgeon and renowned hematologist, Dr Saqib Ansari, said the provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well as that of Gilgit-Baltistan should also follow the Sindh and Punjab governments and provide BMT treatment to needy patients.

Dr Ansari was, however, of the opinion that each provincial government in Pakistan as well as the federal government should establish their own BMT centers in their areas. He said that these centers could be established at a cost of Rs300 million to Rs350 million.

“My services are available for the establishment of such centers. especially in Karachi, where hundreds of patients annually die due to treatable blood disorders and a lack of BMT facilities.”

 

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