PESHAWAR, Saturday 8 September: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi commended the charitable work of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital saying providing free-of-cost treatment to underprivileged cancer patients is a noble act.
“Hospitals like this are a symbol of hope for thousands of cancer patients who have little resources,” Grandi said during his visit. The High Commissioner was accompanied by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Mark Lowcock and film star, Ms. Mahira Khan.
The UN refugee agency has provided high-tech machines worth Rs.710 million (USD 6.2 million) for Peshawar’s Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer hospital to support free-of-cost treatment to cancer patients, including Afghan refugees.
The radiotherapy machines will be fully operational by the end of this year. Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation to break down cancer cells and treat tumours in the body. UNHCR will also provide training to the technicians to operate the equipment effectively. The new cancer equipment will provide some 30,000 treatment sessions to both Pakistanis and Afghan refugees in 2019.
Speaking in the hospital, the High Commissioner thanked the people and provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for currently hosting some 800,000 Afghan refugees in the spirit of Islamic values of hospitality and generosity.
“Such investments in health systems is a demonstration of solidarity and burden sharing by the international community with the people of Pakistan. The international community values Pakistan’s generous support to Afghan refugees despite facing internal challenges,” Grandi said.
Dr. Faisal Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre appreciated the support from UNHCR for the construction of the Emergency Assessment Unit and provision of the state-of-the-art equipment.
Sultan said: “The hospital has established itself as a centre of excellence providing comprehensive care free-of-cost to thousands of cancer patients, regardless of their ethnicity or nationality. Doors are open for all, including Afghan refugees.”
UNHCR constructed the emergency assessment room and provided other medical equipment to the Peshawar Shaukat Khanum hospital in 2015.
“I have been associated with the Shaukat Khanum Hospital for six years, using my voice to raise awareness and lift the stigma of breast cancer so the disease can be caught early and treated. I am deeply moved by the Hospital’s mission of equal treatment for all, irrespective of their ability to pay – including refugees.”