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Why Pakistan needs another Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre?

Health standards of a country are judged against certain benchmarks.

Standard of patient care provided, availability of expertise in various specialities and quality of research undertaken form the fundamental pillars of healthcare in any developed western country. Third world countries like Pakistan must strive to achieve those parameters in order to improve their standard of healthcare

The estimated population of Pakistan is more than 185 million, with an annual population growth rate of more than 2 % . The population is young, with the median age around 20 years .Over 148,000 people are diagnosed with cancer while more than a 100,000 (of which a large proportion are young) people die from it every year in Pakistan.There are various reasons behind such high mortality rates and unawareness, paucity of means,non-availability of appropriate facilities and expertise aresome of the foremost.

Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore was established in Dec 1994 after a jubilant Pakistani nation donated money in a never seen before frenzy, to their world cup hero. Khan claims that the motivation to commit to such an arduous and unprecedented task came from a dream when he saw his mother suffer at the hands of this merciless and unforgiving affliction. Winning the cricket world cup in 1992 provided him with an ideal opportunity to stimulate the public into donating money for a cause that none but few considered more than a delusion.

I remember going around the neighbourhood with my late grandmother, asking for donations for ShaukatKhanum and I am unable to recall a single incident where “NO” or “Sorry I can’t” was the response.

Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Its journey was initially tumultuous with extremely high running costs. State of the art equipment, acquisition of required skill and expertise and provision of free anti cancer regimes being the primary culprits. Since its initial phase ,it has successfully established itself as a trust-worthy and internationally recognized institution by maintaining exceptionally high standards.

But Shaukat Khanum isn’t just special for provision of free cancer treatment to the poor, rather It has done a lot more than that !

It has provided a practically attainable roadmap for other government based as well as privately run hospitals to achieve the highest standards of care,by successful implementation within its boundaries of an exceptionally well managed system which has no parallels in the current healthcare setup.

Shuakat khanum


Meritocracy, departmental autonomy,strict adherence to quality and performance parameters, stringent accountability framework and a congenial work place environment are some of the distinctive components of ShaukatKhanum’sworkplace policy which some of my colleagues, currently working at SKMCH,have personally confirmed.

Research in the field of cancer is non-existent in Pakistan due to scarcity of funds as well as required expertise and equipment .The research centre affiliated with ShaukatKhanum is its flagship enterprise which has been able to consistently overlook and produce high impact research publications .The management team at ShaukatKhanum also organizes an annual international symposium to provide the Pakistani physicians with the latest advancements in the field of cancer research.

Training and passage of knowledge and skills is imperative for long-term maintenance of a successful healthcare setup. Over the last several yeas, Shaukat Khanum Hospital has trained a large number of young physicians to the highest standards.

According to the figures given by the ShaukatKhanum management, approximately 25% of their patient population belongs to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The current facility located in Lahore is unable to cope with the burden of cancer referrals from the whole country. This current drive to collect money is going to help the people of Northern Pakistan in near future.

shaukat khanum

Virtual Tour of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital… by shaukatkhanum

I believe that as a nation the onus is upon us to stand up and help ourselves.


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