UNHCR donates equipment to women's hospital in Pakistan
QUETTA, Pakistan, Oct 18 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has donated medical equipment worth 1.2 million rupees ($20,000) to a hospital in Quetta under a programme of assisting medical facilities that serve both Pakistanis and Afghan refugees.
The donation, including an ultrasound machine, a computer graphic printer, an electric generator and surgical equipment, went to Quetta's Lady Duffrin Hospital, the only hospital in Balochistan province dedicated to caring for women. The 160-bed hospital, established a century ago, also has a recognised nursing school for the training of grade "A" nurses.
"This is a way UNHCR can help share the burden of the Pakistani public and the government while they show great generosity in hosting millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan," Yousif Adam, the acting head of the UNHCR sub-office in Quetta, said as he handed over the equipment earlier this month.
"We are not a developmental organisation but UNHCR has done whatever has been possible to help hospitals or other institutions in the country that can benefit the people of Pakistan," Adam said.
The donation is part of a UNHCR policy of assisting hospitals in both Balochistan and North West Frontier provinces that provide medical aid for Pakistanis and Afghan refugees. Last year, the refugee agency spent some 5 million rupees to upgrade the Chaman District Government Hospital in Balochistan.
UNHCR's Adam said the agency chose Lady Duffrin hospital for a donation this year because it is the only one in the province dedicated to providing care to women.
"The equipment is most needed for the hospital as the hospital is being run by a welfare trust on a no-profit no-loss basis," said Dr. Arifa Anwar, Medical Superintendent of Lady Duffrin Hospital. "Patients from the far-flung areas of the province, Afghanistan and Iran come to us for their treatment."
She said the hospital could not afford to buy the equipment itself as most income went to staff salaries. "I thank UNHCR for this timely contribution and hope that, keeping in view our constraints and our selfless services, other organisations will also come forward," said Dr. Anwar.
UNHCR has been focused in Pakistan since March 2002 on assisting Afghan refugees to return home under a voluntary repatriation programme. This year, the agency has assisted some 370,000 Afghans to go home, bringing the total in the past three years to more than 2.2 million. The programme will continue until March 2006 under a tripartite agreement between UNHCR and the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan.