UN refugees agency to provide high-tech machines to SKMCH

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  • Menikdiwela, Dr Sultan sign MoU in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: The United Nations refugees agency has procured high-tech machines worth Rs 710 million ($6.2 million) for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH) to support free-of-cost treatment to thousands of needy patients including Afghan refugees.

The UN refugees agency will provide radiotherapy machines, software and training for the technicians to operate the equipment. Radiotherapy uses high energy radiation to break down cancer cells and treat tumors in the body. The machines will be installed in the newly-constructed hospital rooms by mid-summer 2018.

The UNHCR representative Ruvendrini Menikdiwela and the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital chief executive officer Dr Faisal Sultan signed a memorandum of understanding in Peshawar. Officials from the federal and provincial governments also attended the event. The new cancer equipment will benefit over 30,000 cancer patients every year and an estimated 1,500 new patients will be added every year.

In addition to the local patients, Afghan refugees will benefit from the state-of-the–art treatment for cancer. The UNHCR representative lauded the work of the hospital as a symbol of hope for thousands of underprivileged patients in Pakistan including the refugees. “Treating those in real need and trying to save lives is the noblest act of service to humanity,” Menikdiwela said.

She appreciated the people and the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for hosting the refugees in the spirit of Islamic values of hospitality and generosity for decades. Previously, UNHCR constructed the emergency assessment room and provided medical equipment to the hospital in 2015.

In recognition of the support provided by the government and people of Pakistan, UNHCR’s budget to support refugees in the country has increased over recent years. UNHCR also implements the Refugees Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme to support the Afghan nationals and their host communities.

Since its launch in 2009, the RAHA programme has provided assistance to over 10.6 million people through 4,100 projects worth $ 200 million in Pakistan in the sectors of education, health, livelihood, water, sanitation, infrastructure and social protection. Pakistan continues to host 1.4 million Afghan refugees. Around 4.3 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan under the UNHCR-facilitated voluntary repatriation programme since2002.