QUETTA: Mohammed Ishaq scrambled to arrange an expensive private ambulance to Karachi after his younger brother experienced intense chest pain earlier this week in a remote village in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan.
But before Ishaq could embark on the long journey from a village in Killa Abdullah district to the port city of Karachi in a neighboring province, he discovered that his brother could receive equally good treatment at a new public hospital much closer to home in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan.
Constructed on an area of more than 120,000 square meters, the 120-bed Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Institute of Cardiology was fully inaugurated just last month. Built by the UAE at a cost of $27.3 million provided by the Abu Dhabi Development Fund, the facility is now open even for complicated surgeries.
“I hired a rented ambulance to take my younger brother Asmatullah to Karachi after he suffered severe chest pains,” Ishaq told Arab News. “However, a relative informed us there was a new cardiac facility in Quetta and we decided to bring him here in the early hours of Wednesday.”
The hospital opened its outpatient department in May before starting angioplasties and more complex heart surgeries six months later. In the 26 days since the facility’s full inauguration, 12 bypass and valve replacement operations have been performed there.
Asif Khan, a 60-year-old resident of Quetta’s Nawa Killi neighborhood who had open-heart surgery at the hospital on Dec. 20, said that he previously had to travel twice to Sukkur in neighboring Sindh province for treatment after he was first diagnosed with heart disease in April.
“Then I visited the Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahyan Institute of Cardiology for my medical checkup in the first week of December,” he said, “and the doctors gave me assurances that my open-heart surgery could also be performed here.”
Dr. Khuzaima Tariq, who has worked at the facility for the last six months, said that the institute is the only hospital in Balochistan where a full range of cardiac treatments are available.
“This health facility is available for people belonging to all four provinces of the country,” she said.
“All cardiac facilities are available here. Starting from Cath Lab, placement of pacemakers, open-heart surgery, everything is available here. We have a modular theater where we have started open-heart surgeries.”
Tariq declined to comment on whether surgeries at the facility were subsidized or how much patients were charged.
Dr. Mohammed Hashim, her colleague, said that a large number of patients were regularly arriving at the hospital now, adding that many people from neighboring Afghanistan were also visiting for consultations and treatment.
“Until recently, the residents of Balochistan were deprived of quality heart treatment,” he said. “Now, the patients who used to travel to places like Karachi and Sukkur have started getting proper treatment by professional healthcare experts.”
Another heart patient, Zahoor Ahmed, said he was relieved that there was finally a state-of-the-art facility close to home.
“Doctors referred me to travel to Sukkur but from here, transport to Sukkur was very expensive. It was very far,” Ahmed said from his hospital bed at the facility. “Now here, it is near, and in one place we are getting all the facilities.”