“The jobs contracts of BNT centre employees should not be extended anymore, reads a letter – a copy of which is available with Daily Times – which was sent to PIMS by the CADD.
“In order to avoid to administrative issue, it is proposed not to be extended job contracts of these employees”, reads the letter.
Sources said that more than 100 employees, including medical and paramedical staff, had been working at the centre for the last many years.
A PIMS official, who requested to remain unnamed, said that the statement of the ministry was very alarming and worrisome for the BNT staff. He said that the letter had created confusion among BNT officials as they were unable to decide whether they should book further patients for transplant or not.
Work on the BNT was started in 2008 under an agreement between Pakistan and Italy codenamed ‘Swap Debt Agreement’. Under the agreement, Italy converted a loan to Pakistan into a grant and agreed to build the transplant centre at PIMS.
“In 2015, the project was terminated after which the then administration managed to get around Rs 5 million from the government to continue to provide the service to children, the official said.
Currently, sources said, the BTN staff was not paid the last eight months’ salaries due to ‘shortage of funds’.
Sources added that non- payment of salaries and shortage of funds was not a new issue. “Similar issue came to the fore in 2016 that was resolved later,” said an official attached with the unit since its inception.
The available information suggests that so far the BTN centre has treated around 150 patients successfully and around 500 patients are in waiting list for treatment.
Currently, there are three centers, which are providing the transplant facility – Armed Forces Bone Marrow Transplant Centre in Rawalpindi, National Institute of Blood Diseases and the Agha Khan University Hospital in Karachi. While the PIMS is the only public sector hospital that has been providing the transplant for free of cost.
Sources disclosed that the BMT unit of PIMS was the only such facility running in the region with six beds and three transplant facilities. Moreover, with the support of Baitul Maal and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the treatment cost has been declined to around Rs 800,000, which is considered nominal when compared to treatment expenditures at any private hospital.
When contacted, CADD Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chauhdry expressed ignorance over the matter. “I don’t know the exact cause of the issue you are talking about. However, similar issue was observed in the centre in the past due to halt of funding by international donors,” the minister claimed.
Published in Daily Times, January 31st 2018.