KARACHI – Specially designed to treat children fighting life-threatening diseases, the new 5,500 square foot, Rs 200 million, eight-bed facility will facilitate many more infants, toddlers and pre-teens whose fragile health requires special attention.
A quick glance at Pakistan’s child mortality rates highlights the urgent need for dedicated facilities to treat children facing complicated diseases. One in 11 children die before their fifth birthday and one in 66 infants lose their lives before the age of one, according to Unicef’s State of Children in Pakistan report.
Over the past five years, the university’s teaching hospital has noticed a three-fold increase in children requiring intensive care. The new Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) will provide personalized care to around 400 at-risk children every year, thereby helping address the shortage of intensive care facilities for children.
Outlining the need for a PICU, Interim Head of the Division for Women and Child Health Prof Iqtidar Ahmad Khan said: “At present many critically ill children continue to receive treatment alongside adults in intensive care units even though a child’s needs are different to that of an adult.”
“A dedicated facility will improve the availability of specialists for ailing children and also create a more comfortable environment for parents seeking the best treatment for their child,” he added.
The opening of the PICU follows the January 2015 doubling in the capacity of the University Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to a 24-bedded unit, which cares for babies under 28 days of age.
Commenting on the impact of the PICU, AKU President Firoz Rasul said: “The Paediatric Intensive Care Unit is an integral part of the University’s commitment to Women and Child Health. This focus on children’s health through the provision of intensive care for neonates, babies and adolescents is a key part of our services and education as well as research.”
At the ceremony, one of the PICU donors said: “There is nothing worse for a parent than seeing their child suffer from a life-threatening disease. The uncertainty and helplessness of such difficult times is eased when you know that there is a specially designed facility that can bring them back to health.