Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centres (SKMCH&RC) are state-of-the-art cancer centres located in Lahore and Peshawar, Pakistan. SKMCH&RC, Lahore was the first project of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, which is a charitable organization established under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 of Pakistan.
Inspiration for making the Hospital
Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre is the brainchild of Pakistan’s Cricket World Cup winning captain and the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan. The inspiration to build the Hospital came after his mother, Mrs. Shaukat Khanum, succumbed to cancer in 1985. During his mother’s illness, he witnessed up-close the plight of poor cancer patients in the hospitals of Pakistan and realised the need for a specialized cancer centre in his country. Being a developing country, where many do not have access to even elementary health care facilities, cancer was considered the ultimate symbol of hopelessness and almost certain death. Prior to the establishment of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore, no specialised institution for the comprehensive treatment of cancer existed in Pakistan. Imran Khan therefore decided to embark upon his dream of making cancer care accessible to the people of his country, regardless of their ability to pay. Hence, began the story of the enduring love of a son for his mother and of the passion of a nation.
The beginning of a great journey
The first fundraising dinner in support of the project was held in 1988 in Dubai, where Imran Khan was playing at the time, in a cricket tournament. As donations started pouring in, he knew there was no turning back. After he returned to Pakistan, he gathered a team of eminent individuals from diverse backgrounds and formed the Board of Governors of the newly established Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust. Initially, Imran faced scepticism from friends as well as many experts in the field of medicine, who told him his idea would fail and that he would end up hurting the reputation he had built over the years as a cricketer. The Board held a meeting with twenty of the top doctors in Lahore for advice on how to proceed, where all but one said that the project was not feasible. The one doctor who said it was possible to make the Hospital, warned that it would be impossible to provide free cancer treatment for the needy, given how expensive cancer treatment was.
By 1990, after one and a half years of fundraising, Imran seemed to have exhausted all his options, with only limited funds having been collected. He turned then to school children, launching a fundraising team of “Imran’s Tigers”. The Tigers ended up creating history, collecting donations from motorists at traffic lights, and going from door to door to collect funds. They not only collected enough money to allow the construction of the Hospital but also created awareness among the public of the need for the nation’s first cancer hospital.
Pakistan’s win, under Imran Khan’s captaincy, in the 1992 Cricket World Cup in Melbourne helped boost fundraising efforts, but by 1994, the project was still short of funds and, by now donor fatigue had set in at home and amongst overseas Pakistanis. The Hospital was planned to open in late 1994 but in October of that year, US$ 4 million were still needed to complete and to equip the Hospital. It was at this point that Imran Khan and his team decided to test the support of ordinary Pakistanis. They set out on a hugely successful mass contact campaign which started in mid-November and lasted until 28 December, 1994. They toured twenty-nine cities across Pakistan, collecting US$ 5 million in this six week period from the ordinary people of Pakistan. In the mornings, Imran Khan would address school assemblies and in the evenings he would travel through the streets. The generosity of the people of Pakistan was truly inspiring. By December 1994, Imran Khan had himself given almost half of what he owned to the Hospital. During this first phase of construction, over a million individual donors, from ordinary citizens to the rich and famous, donated cash, jewellery and other valuables to help the first SKMCH&RC transform from a dream into a reality.
SOURCES OF FUNDS (PHASE I)
|Credit and Loans||33%|
EXPENSES (PHASE I)
|Land and Building||231,000,000|
Dr. Nausherwan K. Burki developed the master plan for the Hospital in 1990, while he was Professor of Medicine at the University of Kentucky, USA. He oversaw the building of the Hospital, which was designed by Graham Rapp of Arrasmith, Judd & Rapp, architects specialising in health planning in Louisville, Kentucky. Design details on site were handled by Nayyar Ali Dada and Associates, of Lahore. Local engineering was performed by Progressive Consultants, Lahore. Pakistan’s first Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, located in Johar Town in Lahore, is built on a 20-acre site. It was planned in three phases with the first one costing nearly US$ 22 million; nearly 67 percent of the required budget came in the form of donations. Dr. Burki remains the Chief Medical Advisor to the Trust, and a member of the Board of Governors, continuing to be involved with programme development, quality control, and recruitment of consultant staff, while also working as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, in Farmington, Connecticut, USA.
Finally, against all odds, after the completion of the first phase of the Hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre opened its doors to patients on December 29, 1994. Setting a new trend in Pakistan, the Hospital was not inaugurated by a VIP but by a ten-year-old cancer patient.
Where we are today
The Lahore hospital has gone from strength to strength, establishing a reputation for clinical excellence and research, and was awarded JCI accreditation in 2018. Consistently, the hospital has continued to treat more than 75% of all cancer patients seen completely free of charge.
Keeping in mind that approximately 30% of patients seen at Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore hail from the KPK province, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Peshawar, was inaugurated on December 29th, 2015. Maintaining the traditions of clinical quality established in Lahore, SKMCH&RC, Peshawar, was also awarded JCI accreditation in July 2019.
The Shaukat Khanum Trust also commenced the construction of Pakistan’s third and largest, SKMCH&RC, in Karachi, in September 2020. This three-year project, to be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 25.5 billion, is expected to open for patients as soon as possible and will provide state-of-the-art cancer care facilities to patients from Sindh and Southern Baluchistan.
With a presence in more than sixty-five cities in Pakistan in the form of hospitals, diagnostic centres, walk-in clinics (cancer screening centres), and laboratory collection centres, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust has emerged as one of the most credible charities in Pakistan and has been recognised by the Human Rights Society of Pakistan as well as by the World Health Organization for its contributions towards humanity. Our journey continues…