SYED UROOJ ZAFAR SAMDANI   -  Today is the 23rd anniversary of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC). It has been a hard journey but the hospital has managed to overcome one challenge after another due to the trust it has been able to instill in Pakistanis; both here and abroad.

One of the most revered hospitals in the country; it has in a very short span of twenty three (23) years established itself as the leading hospital of cancer in the country. It was constructed through donations by the people of Pakistan.

It provides state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic facilities for cancer patients irrespective of their ability to pay. Only this year the annual budget is Rs. 10 billion whereas the financially supported patients are 75%, the same number since 1994; an unmatched figure. The hospital has already spent more than Rs. 27 billion on free treatment of deserving cancer patients during the last 22 years.

In the year 2017, the hospital’s Walk-in Clinics continued to witness increasing patient activity with nearly 50,000 patients benefiting from cancer screening at Shaukat Khanum Walk-in-Clinics located in Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi and Multan whereas the number of new patient registrations and outpatient visits also increased to almost three times the number of registrations, and five times the number of visits in 2000.

The hospital is now also registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) apart from being registered in a number of other countries such as USA, UK, Canada & the Gulf region.

A new Endoscopy Suite was inaugurated at SKMCH&RC in Lahore. The new facility has not only enhanced its capacity to perform endoscopy procedures but also created additional space to accommodate more patients in the Emergency Assessment Room.

This year has been special like the past years with the hospital doing one awareness campaign after another to make people realize the deadly menace of cancer and take precautionary steps apart from a number of fund raising activities all around the year.

In keeping with its mission of educating the public, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust has always given significant attention to breast cancer awareness in the month of October. For the first time in its history, Shaukat Khanum Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign went global and its supporters participated from over 50 cities around the world. Over the years, the BCA campaign has gained strength in terms of impact by expanding its outreach geographically as well as by reaching a wider cross-section of society. People from different walks of life including media personnel, celebrities, students, professionals, and home-makers participated in BCA 2017 to spread the message about the importance of early detection of breast cancer.

It organized a seminar regarding awareness about breast cancer held at the hospital premises with former captain, Pakistan cricket team Sana Mir as the chief guest at the occasion as she is also the ambassador of the hospital’s breast cancer campaign. Hundreds of students from women colleges, universities and working women from corporate sector attended the event. Apart from this, the hospital visited a number of women colleges and universities to create awareness amongst the students.

The hospital also organized an anti-tobacco poster competition to create awareness amongst the masses to prevent the ill effects of smoking on world no tobacco day. Major schools from all over Pakistan participated in the contest.

‘Chand Raat’ was one such event which the hospital organized on its grounds in Lahore to create a festive environment for pediatric cancer patients being treated at the hospital. It was a fun filled, colorful evening bringing joy and laughter to the young cancer patients’ faces.

Another was a trip to Dubai of a group of children from SKMCH, who were taken there to participate in the second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL). They attended the opening ceremony and the event. These children were the special guests of Peshawar Zalmi team. In the words of team owner Javed Afridi, “The reason for bringing the children along was that we get to share all our happiness with them.” It was a great gesture by both the hospital and Peshawar Zalmi franchise as it was not an easy task to look after the young cancer patients in an environment away from the hospital.

The holding of such events is just a small effort on the part of SKMCH to bring happiness to these cancer patients, especially the children as cancer treatment is very slow and demands a lot of patience. Credit must be given where it’s due regardless of any prejudice and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital definitely deserves it for the work it has done over the last twenty three years.

The 16th Shaukat Khanum Cancer Symposium was held in Lahore from November 10 to November 12, 2017. This premier regional oncology meeting had representation from more than twenty-five countries. More than a hundred guest speakers and over three thousand delegates from a wide range of disciplines participated in the symposium to discuss the latest developments in the field of oncology.

In the year 2017, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust took its first step towards expanding its revenue generating services in Karachi by opening more than twenty-five new Laboratory Collection Centres. This step will help support construction of Pakistan’s third SKMCH&RC in Karachi.

The construction of the new clinical tower planned nine-level building in SKMCH&RC Lahore which is expected to house  new specialized bone marrow transplant unit, new imaging modalities , the latest in radiation equipment , a new emergency assessment room, pathology services is also expected to start in 2018.

The biggest step SKMCH&RC will take over the years apart from the construction of the Peshawar hospital will be the construction of the third hospital in Karachi, the ground-breaking of which took place on 29th December, 2016. The Diagnostic Centre and clinic in Karachi is already operational.

It is the donations & zakat of the generous people of Pakistan that made Imran Khan’s dream come true in 1994 and it will again be their generosity that will make the dream of a third SKMCH&RC hospital in Karachi come true.

 

SYED UROOJ ZAFAR SAMDANI