Interview by Naveed Ahmad Khan
ONE cannot just sit back on one’s laurels and feel content. Life is a struggle all the way. At Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre (SKMCH&RC), we are always striving to improve the standards Dr. Faisal Sultan, CEO, SKMCH&RC said during the exclusive interview with Pakistan Observer. He said that I am pleased to say that since its inception in 1994, the hospital has become one such glittering example that’s its name is quoted locally and globally whenever quality standards are talked about and I feel proud to be a part of it since the beginning.
Dr. Faisal said that the latest achievement in our ever growing list of awards of recognitions is the award of Joint Commission International’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its internationally-recognized standards. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective patient care. It is pertinent to mention that the Joint Commission International (JCI) was established in 1997 as a division of Joint Commission Resources, Inc. (JCR), a wholly controlled, not-for-profit affiliate of The Joint Commission.
He said that SKMCH&RC, Lahore underwent a rigorous on-site five day survey in this regard. During the survey, a team of Joint Commission International expert surveyors evaluated compliance with hospital standards related to a variety of areas, including the International Patient Safety Goals, patient assessment and care, anesthesia and surgical care, medication management, patient and family education, etc.
On question that the Hospital is more than Pakistan’s first specialized cancer treatment facility, he replied that SKMCH&RC it is a symbol of hope for many thousands of patients who are diagnosed with cancer in the country and cannot afford the expensive treatment. It is a story of enduring love for a mother, the passion of a nation, and the fervor of supporters to not let a disease such as cancer conquer the lives of our people.
Dr Faisal Sultan said about zakat and donations, a Hospital with the size and standard of SKMCH cannot be run without zakat and donations. Our ever increasing annual budget for 2018 is Rs. 11 billion. The budget increase is due to the fact that SKMCH&RC provides free of cost cancer treatment facilities to about 75 to 80 % of poor cancer patients and the prices of medicine, equipment and other costs are continuously on the upward rise. Half of the annual budget is to be met from public donations and Zakat from our valuable supporters in Pakistan and overseas and the remaining half, from revenue generated from Hospital services. The total amount of Zakat collected is spent solely on the treatment of poor and deserving cancer patients. The hospital has spent almost Rs. 33 Billion on treatment of poor patients since its inception. It is a hospital where there is neither discrimination nor distinction between the rich and the poor. All are accorded the same treatment.
About Cancer treatment he said that Caner is a very expensive treatment as the estimated cost for one cancer patient is Rs. one million minimum. Due to the ever increasing burden of cancer in our country, coupled with an acute shortage of specialized cancer hospitals in the country our capacity constraints, we are forced to priorities acceptance of cancer patients, targeting those most likely to benefit from treatment. To cater this increasing burden SKMCH&RC Peshawar was built in 2015 and is dealing with double number of patients as compared to previous year. On the other hand construction of new SKMCH&RC in Karachi will commence in 2018. The new facility will enhance the country’s over-all capacity to treat cancer by offering all diagnostic and therapeutic cancer facilities under one roof.
Dr Faisal said let us have a look at some stats as well; the two functional Hospitals in Lahore and Peshawar recorded a total of 9,004 new patient registrations in 2017. Over all, 243,633 patients were treated through our clinics functional at both our Hospitals. SKMCH&RC, Peshawar recorded a significant 20 percent increase of activity in this area. SKMCH&RC in Lahore is one of the biggest radiotherapy facilities in Pakistan where radiation therapy sessions are conducted using five radiation machines. It has had IMRT capability for many years, but has now also introduced IGRT, which is one of the latest methods of delivering radiation therapy in cancer treatment.
In Lahore Hospital, more than 100 patients receive chemotherapy in specially designated chemotherapy bay every day. The hospital has separate chemotherapy sections for adult and paediatric patients that provide day-care chemotherapy facilities. The Hospital will be commissioning the first PET-CT scanner at the Peshawar Hospital in 2018, significantly enhancing the cancer diagnostic services in the region. SKMCH&RC Peshawar will also be installing a second, new MRI scanner this year, at a cost of about 250 million rupees.
In the end Dr Fiasal said that it would not be wrong to say that Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital has emerged as one of the most credible charities in Pakistan and it is merely due to its willingness and openness towards accountability. We assure the people of Pakistan that SKMCH&RC will continue providing cancer care to the people in the line of its mission with the cooperation of its well-wishers.