Reforming South Punjab: Way Forward

Southern Punjab has been one of the neglected / marginalized sectors in Pakistan. Development has been slow; the health and education sectors in particular have been overlooked.  Infant and mother mortality rates are high. As per the Pakistan Health and Demographic Survey-PDHS 2017-18, 6,000 mothers die annually in Punjab due to pregnancy-related complications and around 50% of maternal mortality in Pakistan occurs in Punjab. Infant mortality rates are also higher in Southern Punjab compared to Central and Northern Punjab. Similarly the percentage of deliveries at a health facility is also the lowest in South Punjab. This is evidence of the dearth of health facilities in Punjab and the lack of uniform distribution of resources across the province. 

However, the Government has decided to take charge and change this situation for the better and has ring fenced finances for the development of Southern Punjab. Of the total ADP, 35pc has been earmarked for 11 districts of South Punjab to uplift the living standard of people of the area as well as to improve the socio-economic indicators.

Previously, Nishtar Hospital Multan and Bahawal Victoria Hospital were the two major health institutions serving a very large segment of society from Southern Punjab and Sindh. The lack of facilities meant overcrowded hospitals, which left many patients without proper medical care.  IDAP, being a statutory body of the Government of Punjab, has been entrusted with the construction and development of numerous state-of-the-art medical facilities and hospitals. These include a 200 Bedded Mother and Child Care Hospital and Nursing College in District Mianwali, Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Buzdar Institute of Cardiology in Dera Ghazi Khan and Establishment of Nishtar-II Hospital in Multan.

As the name suggests, MCH Mianwali will focus on mother and child-care and specialize in providing Gynae, Labour, Ante Natal, Post Natal and Pediatric medical services. The hospital is spread over an approximate covered area of 6 acres. This facility will help in alleviating the plight of many in Southern Punjab. Establishment of Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Buzdar Institute of Cardiology in Dera Ghazi Khan is another major initiative of the Government, comprising 100 beds, the hospital shall provide specialist cardiac facilities which are not readily available in the region.

IDAP has been entrusted by the Government to provide turn-key solution, which require specialized expertise. IDAP uses innovative and novel building techniques and designs which ensure optimal space utilization, whilst ensuring minimal environment impact.

Given the specialist nature of work being undertaken by IDAP, it has also been entrusted with the establishment of Nishtar-II Hospital in Multan. This project entails establishment of a 1000 bedded hospital along with a medical and nursing college to be executed in 3 phases. 500 beds will be added to the existing facility in the first phase of the project. An additional 500 beds with be added in phase 2 and in phase 3 medical college and nursing college will be established. The hospital aims to provide a wide array of facilities to the populous to ensure provision of health services to all.  The main facilities to be provided at the hospital include:

  • Emergency Ward                      
  • 2 Neuroscience Units
  • 2 Orthopedics Units
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • Pediatric Surgery & Medicine
  • Modular Theatres
  • Surgery Units
  • 2 Gynecology Units

The focus of the Government is not only to provide better health facilities in South Punjab but to establish better infrastructure and ensure uniform delivery of resources across Punjab. In an effort to ensure the fulfillment of this objective, the Government is also establishing a South Punjab Secretariat. This move shall ensure smooth functioning of the area resulting in matters pertaining to South Punjab being addressed in South Punjab in a timely manner. IDAP is designing and constructing the new building for the Secretariat encompassing a state-of-the-art facility planned on 62 acres of land in the outskirts of Multan city located on Mattial Road.  The premises consist of a Secretariat building, IG office, Chief Ministers Complex, Club building and the Government Officers’ Residence (GOR) with urban forest and wide boulevards to provide an aesthetically pleasing experience for incumbents.

Given the demographics of Southern Punjab, the provision of these facilities is anticipated to have a major impact on mortality rates and the provision of employment opportunities which will ultimately uplift the standard of living of the people of South Punjab.





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