SKMCH&RC Karachi: A new dawn of hope for cancer patients



Construction work for the new Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC), Karachi is underway at full pace and the project is expected to be commissioned at a total cost of Rs16.4 billion.

The new hospital located in DHA City is planned to become functional in 2023. The structural work on the lower ground, ground and first floor are close to completion.

The lower ground floor will house clinical and radiation oncology department, which has ten bunkers for radiation machines and the department of nuclear medicine.

The radiology department, the outpatient clinics, the emergency assessment unit, pharmacy and cafeteria will be located on the ground floor and the first floor will house the chemotherapy bays, the bone marrow transplant unit, the endoscopy unit, the pathology lab and the blood bank. The new Shaukat Khanum Hospital will be commissioned at a total cost of Rs. 16.4 billion.

It is expected to complete in less than three years. In terms of constructed area and services, this will be Pakistan’s biggest tertiary care cancer hospital. It will hugely enhance the country’s capacity to treat cancer.

According to the Global Cancer Observatory report, there are over 170,000 new cancer cases recorded in Pakistan each year and the huge number of new cancer patients means that Shaukat Khanum Hospitals in Lahore and in Peshawar are able to serve only a proportion of those suffering from cancer in Pakistan.

The treatment of cancer is often a long and arduous process, with many patients having to make repeated, and expensive, trips over long distances in order to seek treatment.

Successful completion of treatment is followed by several years of further visits for follow-up. It is for this reason that the second Shaukat Khanum Hospital was constructed in Peshawar, and this is why the third one is being built in Karachi.

Construction of the third SKMCH&RC will hugely enhance the country’s capacity to treat cancer and provide access to cancer care for ever-increasing numbers of patients.

At SKMCH&RC, Karachi, patients will receive state-of-the-art cancer treatment based on the principles of quality and equality, irrespective of their ability to pay.

The third hospital, being constructed over one million square feet of area, will be twice the size of the hospital in Lahore.

It is being constructed based on SKMT’s experience of running two tertiary care cancer centres for over two decades, according to international healthcare standards. It will be equipped with the latest medical technology and staffed by highly-trained professionals.

The new hospital will continue the legacy of SKMCH&RC in Lahore and Peshawar, and all patients will receive the best possible curative and palliative therapy, irrespective of their ability to pay.

The inspiration to build SKMCH&RC came after Imran Khan’s mother, Mrs. Shaukat Khanum, succumbed to cancer in 1985.

During his mother’s illness, he also witnessed the plight of underprivileged cancer patients in the hospitals of Pakistan and deeply felt the need for a specialized cancer centre in his country.

Being a developing country where the majority do not have access to even elementary healthcare facilities, cancer was considered the ultimate symbol of hopelessness and almost certain death.

After receiving overwhelming support from generous donors, SKMCH&RC Lahore was opened on December 29, 1994.

The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust aims to build a series of hospitals in various cities of Pakistan to bring cancer care closer to the patients.

Since nearly 30% of patients in Lahore came from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and adjoining areas, the second hospital was opened in Peshawar on December 29, 2015.

The supporters of SKMT have always donated with confidence, knowing that their contributions are spent judiciously on needy cancer patients, while simultaneously helping to raise standards of healthcare for all those who are suffering from cancer in Pakistan.

This is ensured by implementing a number of continuous quality improvement programmes at Shaukat Khanum Hospitals.

The recent award of re-accreditation by the Joint Commission International (JCI) for SKMCH&RC, Lahore, testifies to the fact that SKMT has been true to its words in providing world-class cancer care to all patients, over 75% of whom are treated entirely free of charge.

The JCI is recognised as a global leader in developing the most rigorous standards for healthcare quality and patient safety in the world. SKMCH&RC, Lahore first achieved JCI accreditation in 2018, while SKMCH&RC, Peshawar was so accredited in 2019.

In a country of nearly 220 million people, two tertiary care cancer hospitals can clearly not treat everyone with cancer.

Therefore, SKMT has planned a number of expansion and construction projects to be able to serve ever more patients. In Lahore, construction of the new clinical building is planned, which will effectively double the capacity over the next three years.

In Karachi, Pakistan’s third and largest Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital will serve not only Karachi, the most populous city of Pakistan, but also all of Sindh and Southern Balochistan.

According to an estimate, there are over 170,000 new cancer patients in Pakistan each year and more cancer hospitals are needed to cater to the disease burden in our country.

The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust is actively involved in education and training of healthcare professionals. It offers postgraduate training programs recognised by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan (CPSP) in Radiation Oncology, Pathology, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, Medical Oncology, Internal Medicine, Anaesthesia, General Surgery, Haematology, Surgical Oncology, Paediatric Oncology, Gastroenterology, Infectious Diseases, Pulmonology, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Breast Surgery, Pain Medicine, Microbiology and Endocrinology.

It also offers a bachelor’s degree in Oncology Nursing, as well as diploma programmes in pre-operative nursing, oncology/cancer nursing, emergency/critical care nursing and medical laboratory technology. The new hospital in Karachi will also become a centre of excellence, providing education and training to healthcare professionals in the region.

The SKMCH&RC is committed to perform research of highest scientific and ethical standards as reflected in our mission statement.

The research division comprises of Basic Sciences Research Laboratory, Clinical Research Office and Cancer Registry and Clinical Data Management.

Registries can play an important role in identifying relationships between factors that can lead to improved health outcomes in terms of patient safety, access to care and areas of public education.

At the Shaukat Khanum Hospitals, realising the important role of data in management of cancer, the hospital-based cancer registry has been functioning since the inauguration of SKMCH&RC, Lahore in 1994, and it has supported the development of what is the country’s largest population-based cancer registry, the Punjab Cancer Registry.

The data from the Punjab Cancer Registry is also shared with the International Agency for Research on Cancer to estimate the cancer incidence for Pakistan. With the establishment of SKMCH&RC, Karachi, valuable data would be available from the Southern Pakistan which will support the fight against cancer in the region.

The SKMT strives for enhancing Pakistan’s capacity to provide best possible care to as many cancer patients as possible. For 2021, the annual operating budget for the SKMT is Rs19 billion.

Nearly half of this is expected to be generated from its clinical income, which comes largely from its diagnostic services, provided primarily via its nationwide laboratory collection centre network. It has over 175 laboratory collection centres, in 65 cities all over Pakistan.

The other half of the budget is raised each year by collecting Zakat and donations from generous supporters.

At the SKMT, the disbursement of Zakat is considered to be a sacred trust, and it is ensured that all necessary steps and safeguards are in place for its utilisation in compliance with Islamic injunctions and the expectations of donors. All Zakat collected is spent in providing direct patient care within the year of collection – it is neither saved nor invested.

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