south Punjab

The Specialized Health Care & Medical Education (SH&ME) Department had introduced the project at BV Hospital to provide bone-marrow transplant services in the south Punjab region.

Successive governments have failed to complete a vital project of south Punjab region for the minor patients requiring thalassaemia and bone marrow transplant treatment.

The project — “Upgradation of Thalassemia Unit & Bone Marrow Transplant Center at Bahawal Victoria Hospital Bahawalpur,” — was originally approved in July 2009 at a cost of Rs714.1m. Later, it was revised three times between 2014 and 2020 and the third revised PC-I of the project was approved in February 2020 at a cost of Rs1173.061m.

The original gestation period of the project was 2014-2017, while the project’s current completion period is June 2022. Meanwhile, the project cost increased from Rs714.190m (original cost) to Rs1,173m (final revised PC-I cost) (about 49 per cent increase).

Unfortunately, the centre failed to provide treatment to the minor patients and many of them died for want of timely treatment. An official report raised some disturbing facts about the apathy of the governments and the health authorities.

“The cultural traditions of consanguineous marriages in Pakistan over the past decades have resulted in widespread transmission of thalassaemia gene in the population,” reads the report. It said the thalassaemia minor or carrier which is the mild form of the disorder has a prevalence of about 5-7pc in the country (8-10 million population).

“It is estimated that about 100,000 patients are suffering from thalassaemia major in Pakistan, and this number is increasing by 5000-9000 patients each year,” according to the report.

It further elaborated that these patients were dependent on regular blood transfusions to sustain life in addition to expensive chelation therapy and other medical managements.

“As a result, thalassaemia became a significant health challenge and placed a considerable psychological and financial stress on the affected families, in addition to being a significant burden on the national healthcare delivery system,” it says.

The Children’s Hospital, Lahore, is the only health facility in Punjab which is offering the said facility. It had the first bone marrow transplant centre of the province which was established in 2016.

The Specialized Health Care & Medical Education (SH&ME) Department had introduced the project at BV Hospital to provide bone-marrow transplant services in the south Punjab region. The scope of this project included civil work (construction of new building for BMT Centre), revenue component (Procurement of Medical and Lab Equipment, Plant & Machinery and Furniture & Fixture, hiring of human resource for BMT Centre and training of the staff at the National Institute of Blood Disease & Bone Marrow Transplantation (NIBD) Karachi.

“The current assessment showed that all three components/activities of the revenue portion were lagging behind the time lines and none of the revenue components was completed as per the PC-I scope i.e. estimated 5pc progress on Procurements, 25pc progress on hiring of human resource and 0pc progress on training of BMT staff at NIBD Karachi,” says the report.

The project scope would not be completed in the current PC-I period (by June 2022). “It is likely to be completed by 2023/2024,” it said.

Given that the BMT is a specialised field and knowledge, education and training of staff is critical in this area. As many as 384 project posts, 33 key posts (doctors, pharmacists, paramedics and lab staff) were to receive dedicated BMT training for two years at the NIBD Karachi. Afterwards, this staff was to train others and initiate the BMT services.

The report said more than 12 years have been passed but the BMT services could not be provided to the children.

“A total of 4,816 thalassemia patients were registered at thalassemia treatment centre BVH in 2014, and this number reached 11,087 in 2018 (130pc increase),” reads the report. Similarly, it said, new thalassemia admissions reached from 111 in 2014 to 412 in 2018 (271pc increase).

This news was originally published by DAWN.

By Web Team

Technology Times Web team handles all matters relevant to website posting and management.