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November 14, 2017



Establishment of PIC unlikely due to lack of funds

Establishment of PIC unlikely due to lack of funds

PESHAWAR: After much delay, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government announced members of the Board of Governors (BoG) for the Peshawar Institute of Cardiology (PIC), but sources told The News that its future is in doldrums as the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government has excused to provide funds for the project.

In January 2017, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) had directed the provincial government to nominate a separate BoG for PIC after Dr Hussain Ahmad Haroon of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) challenged the government notification that declared the under-construction cardiac institute under the BoG of Lady Ready Hospital (LRH).

Some people claimed that Dr Haroon through his lawyers had misled the honourable court as PIC was not a teaching institute and therefore it didn’t require a separate BoG.

The litigation in the court further delayed the project.

The government on Monday notified the seven-member board for PIC. They included Dr Nausherwan Burki, Prof (R) Dr Waheed A Sahibzada, Masood Sadiq, Dr Shafqat Hasan, Dr Asif Loya, Maj Gen (R) Ashur Khan and Dr Ikram Ghani.

Interestingly, the government two months ago had formed a BoG for the PIC and when the members held their first meeting to make a proper plan for the cardiac hospital, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak reportedly informed them that he would have to add some people in the BoG and also seek approval from the provincial cabinet.

Also, senior government officials told The News that members of the BoG were informed two months ago that the cabinet had in principle approved funds for PIC but made it conditional with availability if funds.

“It was a joke by the PTI government with the BoG as not a single penny had been released for this crucial project. And then the BoG was notified but asked not to make any decisions or order purchase for equipment as the government has no funds,” a senior government official told The News on condition of anonymity.

He said it was unlikely that the PTI government during its tenure would launch services in PIC as nobody was willing to take ownership of the project.

“Frankly speaking, PIC doesn’t exist in priority list of the PTI leadership. Most of the people in the government think that the building had already been completed and in the presence of Dr Nausherwan Burki it would be difficult for them to get their share in purchase of equipment. Imran Khan is the only hope to use his influence and help release funds for PIC,” said the government official.

He said Dr Nausherwan Burki had demanded Rs2 billion for purchase of equipment for PIC two years ago, but not a single penny had been released so far.

In early 2016, Health Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai visited the PIC site and strictly directed the contractor to complete it by June 2016 as they would open it for patients. Now the building is ready, but Shahram Tarakai seem to have forgotten it.

There is only one cardiac surgery unit in the entire public sector hospitals of the province and patients are being told to wait for two to three years for undergoing cardiac surgery in LRH.

Also, the cardiac surgery unit and cardiothoracic unit share the same operation theatre in LRH.

The PIC was launched in 2004 by the MMA government, but it could not be completed even in 2017.

On the other hand, work started on the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology in 2009 and by 2012 the state-of-the-art facility for cardiac patients was ready.

The ANP-PPP coalition government also failed to complete the project during its five years rule from 2008-2013.

Sources in the government said foreign qualified cardiologists and cardiac surgeons had earlier shown willingness to return to Pakistan and serve in PIC, but most had now changed their minds due to failure of the government to complete it in time.

Even if Imran Khan ensured provision of funds for PIC, recruitment of qualified people for the project would be a major challenge.

“Dr Nausherwan Burki has a good reputation of giving importance to merit but the project has been delayed and I am not sure people would like to come and work here,” said a cardiologist in Peshawar.

Heart disease is the most prevalent disease in Pakistan and the present facilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are woefully inadequate to cope with the demand.