As the fourth wave of Covid-19 loosens its grip on the twin cities, the government of Punjab has decided to resume work on finally making the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology and Kidney Transplant (RIUKT) operational.
While the institution is being run primarily as a medical facility for dealing with the patients of coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic, it had already been facing delays in its completion since nine years of its inception.
The planning and development (P&D) department has now formally approved its revised project concept (PC-1) worth Rs7 billion.
As many as 1,100 medics and paramedics will be recruited in the RIUKT to make it fully functional.
Besides incomplete development work, human resource has also been a big problem for the healthcare facility, with 210 nurses recently being adjusted in different hospitals of Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Murree to ensure timely payment of their salaries.
The foundation of RIUKT was laid in September 2012 by former Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif with an aim to provide quality treatment to the citizens suffering from acute kidney diseases, including kidney transplants.
However, nearly a decade later, the project still awaits its realisation.
Read RIUKT made Covid-19 hospital
Despite the lengthy period of time spent on the construction of the building, the civil works of the institute remain incomplete to this day. Purchase of relevant equipment, however, has been accomplished.
The Punjab government had earlier decided to make RIUKT functional with an emergency room, an outpatient department (OPD) and a dialysis unit in the first phase, but since the outbreak of Covid-19, it has been serving as a dedicated facility for infected patients.
Now with the virus fizzling out in its fourth wave, the government is mulling the completion of RIUKT at the earliest.
The government has also approved the recruitment of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, technical staff, and others through the establishment of a human resource (HR) department.
Notably, the delay had raised the estimated cost of RIUKT from Rs3 billion to more than Rs4 billion when the government failed to meet the last deadline of May 15, 2018.
Health experts have been urging the government to prioritise the project, as the rising number of kidney-related diseases in the country as well as its mortality rate is increasing.
They further said that the government must make RIUKT operational at the earliest for treatment of patients who could not afford private treatment. Rawalpindi Medical University Vice-Chancellor Dr Mohammad Umar said the hiring process will be finalised soon, while the plan for the installation of medical equipment has already been prepared.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2021.