• By: Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad

In the heart of Peshawar’s bustling Hayatabad Phase V stands a beacon of hope for the region’s children – the Khyber Institute of Child Health (KICH) & Bashir Bilour Memorial Children’s Hospital (www.kich.edu.pk, +92 91 9217625). Established in January 2011, KICH is a pioneering institution dedicated to the holistic health and well-being of children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), but unfortunately, it has not been functional due to political interference even in matters of health. With its comprehensive range of clinical, preventive, research, and training facilities, KICH would have represented a milestone in the field of child welfare in the region if attention had been given to it since its establishment.

It would have served, led by a team of dedicated professionals and experts in child health. KICH could have provided the highest standards of care to its young patients if health had been a priority of the government. The institute and hospital were established with the aim of serving the kids of the entire province in the heart of Peshawar but have failed due to political rivalry and issues regarding health.

In addition to its clinical services, KICH aims to be actively involved in research and training initiatives aimed at advancing the field of child health. Through partnerships with leading academic institutions and research organizations, the institute conducts cutting-edge research into various aspects of child health and development. By disseminating knowledge and expertise through training programs and workshops, KICH seeks to build capacity and enhance the skills of healthcare professionals working in the field of child health within a modern and challenging environment in this competitive world.

One of the most significant developments in KICH’s journey is the ongoing construction of a 300-bed children’s hospital, scheduled for completion as phase-II of the institute’s expansion. Once operational, this state-of-the-art facility will further enhance KICH’s ability to provide specialized care to children in need. Equipped with modern medical equipment and staffed by skilled healthcare professionals, the hospital will serve as a beacon of hope for children of the province and families facing complex medical challenges, although it bears the label of Bashir Bilour, people shall also remember the name of the current provincial government or the federal government if special attention is granted to it by any of them.

However, despite its critical importance, KICH has faced its share of challenges in recent years. One such challenge has been the issue of governmental apathy towards public interest projects, exemplified by the cancellation of tenders related to the institute’s expansion. Originally initiated under the ANP administration, the project has languished due to bureaucratic hurdles and political considerations. The delicate tender cancellation is, in fact, the non-earnestness of the government in openly intrigued ventures fair as per political approaches as the clinic was a venture of ANP with the title Bashir Bilour July 17, 3023, shown on its site: https://kich.edu.pk/k2/downloads/tendercancellation.pdf.

In light of these challenges, there is an urgent need for concerted action to ensure the functionality and sustainability of KICH. The writer, being a citizen, emphasizes that the institute’s potential to impact the well-being of children across the region cannot be overstated. It is imperative that all stakeholders, including government agencies, NGOs, and international bodies like UNICEF, come together to support and strengthen KICH’s mission.

Moving forward, it is essential that KICH receives the necessary attention of the Federal government through Aimal Wali Khan or the provincial government through the Chief Minister for funding, resources, and political support to realize its full potential. By investing in the health and well-being of our children, we are investing in the future of our society. With continued commitment and collaboration, KICH can serve as a model for child welfare initiatives not only in KP but across the country, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

  • The writer is a PhD from the University of Essex, UK, and working as an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Malakand.

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