The Punjab Government has released a chunk of Rs180 million for the installation of air conditioning system in under construction building of Children Complex Hospital as DCO Zahid Saleem Gondal claimed that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was highly interested in the completion of the project.

The building of the ill-fated project is still incomplete despite lapse of several years and buildings department sources say that still about 20 per cent work is pending. Health sources said that even if the construction of the building of the hospital was accomplished, yet the process of approval of posts for the hospital, recruitment of staff and purchase of machinery would take at least one more year.

The two-year Children Complex Hospital extension project was launched by Shahbaz Government in 2008 and it was to end in 2010 but it is still incomplete despite lapse of over three years. The way the provincial government released funds shows that the project is likely to get accomplished by 2020, indicates the analysis.

Initially, the government announced a 300-bed project in 1999, but then cut it to 150-bed for shortage of funds. After coming into power again, Mian Shahbaz Sharif revived the project in 2008 but failed to supply needed funds during his entire five-year tenure. The project includes provision of sub-speciality services like renal and bone marrow transplant, cardiac surgery, neuro surgery, MRI services, incinerator, rehabilitation centre and laundry at the hospital.

An analysis discloses that the project is being funded at a ratio of just Rs115 million per year, challenging the claims being made by the Punjab Government regarding keeping health at the top of his priority. The estimated cost of the project also jumped up to over Rs1.86 billion from Rs1.36 billion with an increase of Rs500 million due to the funding trend introduced by the provincial government for the construction of this important hospital of South Punjab.

Social circles strongly criticised Punjab Government for exhibiting disinterest in the project. The Child Rights Committee (CRC), a non-profit body working for kids, lamented that the extension project was launched five years ago but the government failed to complete even the construction of the building.

Being the only kids’ hospital in entire South Punjab region, a large number of children from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh also come to Children Complex Multan for treatment. However, the kids who need to undergo bone marrow and kidney transplant or cardiac surgery are directed to Lahore and Karachi because of absence of these facilities at this hospital.

Hospital sources revealed that over 300 kids were currently admitted to the hospital against 150-bed capacity. “We’re forced to lay two or three children on one bed because of shortage of beds. It’s a serious state of affairs as these children are at high risk of catching infections from one another,” a doctor told this scribe on condition of anonymity.

The details show that just Rs20 million was released in financial year 2008-2009, Rs181.198 million 2009-2010, Rs114.830 million 2010-2011 and Rs134 million 2011-2012 and Rs12 million and January 2014.

Meanwhile, the DCO directed the buildings department officials to accomplish work on the building as soon as possible. He also issued order for making the rehabilitation centre functional established for the rehabilitation of special children.