There was a wrong perception that some patients were not given treatment at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, said Chairman Board of Governors SKMCH & RC Imran Khan, while replying to a question during an interview to a private TV Channel.
Imran Khan explained that the SKMCH was the only cancer hospital of its kind in Pakistan. "Therefore it is not possible to treat patients from all over Pakistan when the hospital has limited beds and limited resources. It is a reality that thousands of patients are already under treatment, which can be verified from the hospital records. The Hospital is full of cancer patients, and all beds are occupied. Hence, we can only take 7 to 8 new patients a day. Unfortunately, a cancer patient remains under treatment from 5 to 6 years, and it is not like other patients that they come, get treatment and are discharged," he added. Imran said it should be borne in mind that for treatment of cancer patients, not only building, medical equipment or medicines were required but also very capable doctors, and the Hospital administration was hamstrung by the acute shortage of such experts.
Imran said, under the circumstances "we are left with the only option of prioritising, and have to admit those cancer patients, who have the chances of survival. Therefore, those patients with final stages of cancer have to go back. And they start negative propaganda against the Hospital," he stated. Explaining the situation, Imran said the problem was that if you tell somebody his patient could be treated because the cancer was in the last stage, "the reaction is understandable. They feel that if this hospital cannot treat, then who will treat them. The poor people might think that they do not get the treatment because they do not have the resources. And it is natural that everybody wants to try till the last moment. But if SKMCH starts admitting patients, who are in the third stage, then it is likely that those in the first stage of cancer and with chances of survival may come to the third stage. People should try to understand our problems as well," he said.
While comparing the situation with other countries, he stated that Britain had less than half population as compared with Pakistan and there were fifty cancer hospitals, whereas in Pakistan with 150 million population, we had only one state of the art hospital, that is, SKMCH. Imran Khan expressed his desire to treat every cancer patient coming to the hospital, "but we are constrained by resources. We are, however, accommodating patients much more than the hospital’s capacity. In view of this situation, we have prepared a plan to build a complete cancer hospital at Karachi and extension of the Lahore hospital is underway," he told. "Out of hospital’s Zakat fund, about Rs 3 billion rupees have been spent on providing free treatment to the poor patients, which has no parallel in any of the private cancer hospitals of the world," he said.
Imran also stated that the annual budget had reached Rs 1.4 billion out of this 45 percent is generated by the Hospital from its own resources, and the remaining comes from the people in form of Zakat and donations.
October 24, 2005