Work on trauma centre resumes after funds release
KARACHI, Dec 9: After a pause of a few weeks, work at Civil Hospital Karachi’s new trauma centre began anew after around Rs184 million was diverted to the project over a week ago, Dawn has learnt.
The construction work which was already proceeding at a slow pace since April 2011 had stopped completely a few weeks ago because of shortage of funds. The CHK management had run out of funds during the last financial year and nothing was allocated in the current financial year.
However, sources privy to the trauma centre project said Rs184.5 million was transferred to the project director more than a week ago under capital allocation, following which outstanding construction bills were cleared and deals for importing air conditioners and chillers were finalised.
The funds were actually meant for around 12 ongoing and new health projects under the current financial year of the annual development programme (ADP) for Sindh.
The schemes included construction of a general kitchen and out-patient complex in the CHK, a 50-bed hospital in Hyderabad, a 100-bed hospital in Orangi Town, a trauma centre in Hyderabad, a healthcare centre for non-communicable diseases in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, hospital waste management wings in all teaching hospitals in Sindh, health management information systems in various teaching hospitals and building a health complex in Karachi. The money was also going to be used for the nutrition support programme and cancer prevention programmes in Sindh.
However, despite the diversion of the funds, it would not be possible to make at least four floors of the 13-storeyed complex functional for surgeries, critical care units and receiving causalities by February 2013, as planned by the authorities, according to a senior officer at the CHK.
He said the trauma centre could only become operational at the end of this financial year in June 2013 if the government made sure that an additional amount of Rs1.2 billion was provided for it on a priority basis.
Dawn has learnt that the interruptions in funding not only delayed the completion of the trauma centre, approved during the government of former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, but also doubled its estimated cost. The project’s cost, which was initially estimated to be around Rs2.22 billion, increased to Rs4.88 billion.
Initially, the expenditure on building the trauma centre was to be shared by the provincial and federal governments.
However, the federal government after providing only Rs362 million, stopped its funding after the health sector was devolved to the provinces. Meanwhile, said a source, the Sindh government which now has to bear the rest of the expense, could provide just Rs376 million as capital under
the last financial year’s ADP for Sindh, but failed to release Rs400 million promised under the revenue head.
Referring to the prevailing law-and-order situation of the city and sporadic terrorist attacks, a senior doctor at the CHK said that the state-of-the-art trauma centre needed to be completed immediately but he feared that the project might fall into oblivion because of the upcoming general election. Efforts should be made to acquire the required funds well in advance, he said.
When Dawn talked to the project director of the trauma centre, Hayat Kamal said that he expected revenue of Rs215 million from the Sindh finance department in a week’s time, while steps were being taken to get Rs500 million more to install medical gas fixtures and other equipment.
“I personally feel that in addition to releasing Rs615 million in a month’s time, as worked out by the planning and development department, the CHK would have to be provided Rs700 million to Rs800 million more to make the ground, first, sixth and seventh floors functional by June next year at most,” said Mr Kamal.
A senior planning and development officer of the health department said the department would review its various new and ongoing projects planned for the current financial year to divert Rs400 million for the under-construction trauma centre.
The amount of Rs184 million already diverted to the project would be accommodated from the money allocated for six new and five ongoing health schemes included in the current ADP, the health official told Dawn.