PESHAWAR, 4 April (INP): The UN refugee agency has procured high-tech machines worth Rs.710 million (USD 6.2million) for Peshawar’s Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer hospital to support free-of-cost treatment to thousands of needy cancer patients in Pakistan, including Afghan refugees.
The UN refugee 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 tumours in the body. The machines will be installed in the newly constructed hospital rooms by mid-summer 2018.
UNHCR representative for Pakistan, Ms. Ruvendrini Menikdiwela and the chief executive officer of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer hospital, Dr. Faisal Sultan signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Peshawar. Officials from the provincial government 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 Pakistani patients, Afghans 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 cancer patients in Pakistan, including Afghan refugees. “Treating those in real need and trying to save lives blighted by cancer is the noblest act of service to humanity,” said Ms. Menikdiwela. Ms. Menikdiwela appreciated the people and government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for hosting Afghan refugees in the spirt of Islamic values of hospitality and generosity for decades. UNHCR has previously constructed the emergency assessment room and provided medical equipment to the Peshawar Shaukat Khanum 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 Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) Programme to support Afghan refugees 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 USD200 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 Afghans have returned to Afghanistan under the UNHCR-facilitated voluntary repatriation programme since 2002.