Pakistan hands over $24 million Kabul hospital to Afghan authorities

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In this picture, Afghan and Pakistani officials are cutting ribbon during the hospital inauguration ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday. (Courtesy: Afghan Health Ministry)
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This picture shows the front side of the Jinnah Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Courtesy: Afghan Health Ministry)
Updated 21 April 2019
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Pakistan hands over $24 million Kabul hospital to Afghan authorities

  • Named ‘Jinnah Hospital’ to honor Pakistan’s founder, the hospital will focus on neurosurgery at this stage
  • It is the second of three medical facilities built by Islamabad in Afghanistan

KABUL: A Kabul-based $24 million hospital funded by Pakistan was officially handed over to Afghan authorities on Saturday, according to a statement issued by the foreign office.
Afghan Vice President Sarwar Danish, Afghan Minister of Public Health Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz and Pakistani Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, jointly inaugurated the “200-bed state-of-the-art” hospital in a ceremony held in Kabul, the foreign office said.
Named ‘Jinnah Hospital’ to honor Pakistan’s founder, the hospital will focus on neurosurgery for the time being and in the future will also conduct kidney transplants, Waheed Mayar, spokesman of the Afghan public health ministry told Arab News.
Mayar said the new facility will bring much-needed relief to Afghans who spend over $300 million dollars annually on medical bills and often needed to travel to India, Pakistan and Iran due to the state of Afghanistan’s own hospitals.
According to the press release, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Zahid Nasrullah Khan, said that the Jinnah Hospital was a “flagship project” of the nation’s $1 billion development assistance to Afghanistan. It is the second of three medical facilities built by Islamabad in Afghanistan with one kidney center in Jalalabad already complete and another 100-bed facility under-construction in Logar, in eastern Afghanistan.


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government promises action against polio vaccination spoilers

Updated 20 August 2019
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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government promises action against polio vaccination spoilers

  • Traders in Bannu, one of province’s worst-hit districts, had earlier refused to administer drops to protest new taxes, call off boycott
  • Provincial Information Minister says government will ensure polio teams reach every child no matter the obstacles

PESHAWAR: The government of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province warned on Tuesday it would take strict action against anyone misusing the anti-polio drive just days after traders in Bannu, a district worst hit by the virus, refused to allow the administering of polio drops to protest new taxes.
Pakistan’s polio eradication campaign has hit serious snags in recent months, with an alarming spike in reported cases that has raised doubts over the quality of vaccination reporting and prompted officials to review their approach to stopping the crippling disease.
The country is one of only three in the world where polio is endemic, along with neighboring Afghanistan and Nigeria, but vaccination campaigns have cut the disease sharply, with only a dozen cases last year compared with 306 in 2014 and more than 350,000 in 1988, according to Pakistani health officials.
However, there has been a worrying jump this year, with 53 new cases recorded, 32 of them in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Senseless people who are misusing the anti-polio drive for their personal interests, the government will take action against them and we will not spare them,” Provincial Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told Arab News. “Polio is no less a threat than terrorism. We will make our province and our country polio-free the way we won the war against terrorism.”
“Despite being a nuclear power, do you want Pakistan to stand with Nigeria and Afghanistan [as countries where polio persists]?” Yousafzai asked. “Never ever. We will ensure polio teams reach every child.”
A new round of vaccinations is scheduled to be launched from August 26 to September 1 in 24 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Bannu, said Kamran Afridi, the coordinator of the Emergency Operation Center for polio eradication. Around 30 polio cases out of 32 reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this year have emerged in Bannu.
Afridi said following the recent announcement of protests by traders in Bannu traders, all District Coordination Officers had been directed to engage the community and launch awareness campaigns. 
On August 18, traders in Bannu, a district to the volatile North Waziristan tribal district, threatened to boycott anti-polio drives to build pressure on the government to reverse “heavy taxes’” levied on small businesses. Although the boycott has since been called off, it highlights the complexity of Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign. 
“We have called off our polio boycott but we had to announce the boycott just to get the government’s attention to reverse unprecedented increase in taxes,” Shah Wazir, president of the Bannu Chamber of Commerce, said.