GILGIT/HUNZA: The Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan held the ground-breaking ceremonies for the expansion of the Aga Khan Medical Centre in Gilgit and the construction of a new Aga Khan Health Centre in Hunza. The state-of-the-art healthcare facilities promise continuity of quality health care services to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and complement the Government’s efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals in health.
Khalid Khurshid, Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan who was the Chief Guest, highlighted that the expansion of the Aga Khan Medical Centre in Gilgit and the scale-up of its services will play a pivotal role in addressing the evolving health needs and increasing burden of disease in Gilgit-Balistan.
The changing disease burden, changes in health service delivery landscape and access to healthcare has led to the development of a ‘hubs and spokes model.’ Smaller sites (spokes) refer critical cases to the bigger centres (hubs), which allows the smaller health centres to call on the expertise of the doctors in the larger facility. In Gilgit-¬Baltistan, for example, it means concentrating more health facilities and services, including more sophisticated, high-end diagnostic and treatment tools, in one health centre. As the region realises its potential for economic development while facing challenges of natural disasters from climate change, the need for health care will continue to grow. The expansion of the Aga Khan Medical Centre, Gilgit will more than double capacity from 46 beds to 112 beds by 2023 transforming it into a fully functional general hospital. Services housed in the expanded wing will include acute and critical care, CT scan, dermatology, cardiology, dialysis, ophthalmology, teleconsultations & tele-ICU services, emergency medicine, oxygen generator, full PCR lab and a blood bank.
Syed Amjad Ali Zaidi, Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, who was the Chief Guest at the groundbreaking of Aga Khan Health Centre, Aliabad, acknowledged the government of Gilgit-Balitstan’s partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network for bringing medical excellence in the region. He went on to say, “Not only will people of Hunza and its surrounding benefit from this health Centre, but it will be beneficial to the entire region of Gilgit-Baltistan.”
In Aliabad, the construction of a new 30-bed facility will be the first purpose-built, private, not-for-profit secondary level healthcare facility in Hunza. With the greater prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the region and a burgeoning tourism sector, modern and well-equipped healthcare facilities in the region will play an important role in addressing the health needs of Hunza and its surrounding areas. The Centre is expected to begin operations in 2023.
While appreciating the cooperation and support of the government of Gilgit-Baltistan, Nadeem Abbas, CEO, Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan mentioned that “the burden of disease in Gilgit-Baltistan has changed. We increasingly need to tackle non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. The Aga Khan Medical Centre, Gilgit has introduced state-of-the art healthcare services like dialysis, an 80 slice CT scan machine, a fully equipped ICU and a wide range of modern diagnostic services and innovative solutions like telemedicine.”
Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan has been providing quality health services in Gilgit-Baltistan since 1974. This year, a number of new services have been added including advanced diagnostic services, ophthalmology, cardiology, nephrology, urology, and dermatology. It has also been supporting the Government’s COIVD-19 vaccination drive and also established Covid-19 focused ICU services backed with Tele-ICU – a first of its kind facility in the region.