03 February 2003 Monday 01 Zilhaj 1423
Dawn, Karachi
By Our Staff Reporter

KARACHI: Philanthropists donate Rs20m for oncology facility

KARACHI, Feb 2: The Aga Khan University took a big step towards realizing its dream of setting up a well-equipped oncology services facility when it managed to raise Rs20 million at a dinner on Saturday night , bringing the total amount collected from philanthropists to Rs220 million.

The facility is expected to cost Rs456 million, about Rs216 million of which will be given by the university. This means that only about Rs20 million remains to be raised which, according to the university administration, will be raised soon.

"We are almost there," said a senior official of the university.

The AKU's oncology services building will provide a total of 27,000 square feet of space over four levels. It will have a laboratory, a blood collection facility, a pharmacy and a cytoxic unit.

The building will also house two radiotherapy linear accelerators and a simulator, which are needed for detection and treatment of various cancers.

At the dinner at which the university also thanked the various donors for their generosity, the adviser to the prime minister on finance and economic affairs, Shaukat Aziz, said philanthropy was not just the simple act of giving to the under-privileged. Rather, it was an ongoing process that tackled the root causes of poverty, inequity and disadvantage.

He said poverty needed to be addressed holistically. "The tragedy of the under-privileged in the country, for that matter in any developing country, is that their poverty doesn't simply mean income deprivation," said the prime minister's adviser.

"Poverty is a multi-dimensional challenge, denying them the basic economic, social and political needs necessary for a meaningful existence." The poor people lack access to education, health care, clean drinking water and proper sanitation.

"Denial of these privileges undermines their capabilities, limits their ability to gain meaningful employment and perpetuates the cycle of vulnerability, powerlessness and social exclusion."

Mr Aziz said small acts of generosity couldn't meet the country's needs which were growing exponentially. He claimed that the government's new development strategy had poverty reduction at its core.

"This strategy will constitute a new foundation for development cooperation between Pakistan and the international community. As it is based on the two pillars of self help and support from the international community, this approach promises to make our poverty alleviation efforts more successful and development assistance more effective."

The adviser to the premier praised the well-known organizations and individuals in the corporate sector for donating large sums of money.

Speaking on the occasion, the AKU's president, Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, said people from almost all ethnicities had donated generously for the proposed building. The local corporations as well as multinational organizations donated whole-heartedly for the cause.

"This venture shows conclusively that Pakistanis can, and do, help Pakistanis," he said. The proposed facility will not only be used by Pakistanis but also by people from the neighbouring countries.

The AKU's president also dwelled upon the future projects of his institution. Prof Dr Shaista Khan presented a paper on cancer and its treatment.

Munawwar Hameed announced that Rs20 million had been raised during the event itself. Thus a total of Rs220 had so far been raised and only Rs20 million remained to be raised, he added.