<p><strong style="color: #a3a3a3; font-size: 17.3333px;">The Aga Khan University</strong></p><p><strong style="color: #a3a3a3;"></strong><strong>Tuesday, 16 June 2020</strong></p><div>The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) has been at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic from the beginning. Since late February 2020, when we admitted Pakistan’s first known COVID-19 patient, we have treated more than 600 significantly and critically ill COVID-19 patients and cared for several hundred as outpatients. We have also performed more than 38,000 tests for the virus. Thanks to the extraordinary dedication of our staff and our substantial investments in facilities and testing equipment, we have created separate testing and treatment zones for COVID-19 patients. We continue to invest in fighting the pandemic, and expect to invest more than Rs. 500 million in COVID-19 related equipment, facilities and consumables. </div><div> </div><div>Our Patient Welfare Programme has been there to assist patients who need financial support. In 2019, we provided support of more than Rs. 2.6 billion to such patients. We have continued the assistance this year, disbursing more than Rs. 900 million, including that provided for COVID-19 patients. In addition to advising the Federal and Sindh governments on key task forces, we have provided free-of-cost training on caring for patients with COVID-19 and the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to more than 15,000 healthcare workers across the country, including many working in government hospitals. Our collaboration with the Federal Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation involves training intensive care doctors and nurses across Pakistan to care for COVD-19 patients and supporting these health professionals remotely from AKU through a tele-consultation network. Furthermore, all along we have continued treating patients who come to AKUH for every other disease and condition. </div><div> </div><div>We are aware of questions raised about our billing practices for personal protective equipment, or PPE. COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease for which the only known treatment is supportive care, as currently there are no proven therapeutic medications available. Our approach is based on treating all patients, including those with critical illnesses, at international standards of quality and safety, which protect both patients and healthcare workers from infection. The number of healthcare workers who care for a COVID-19 patient in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) can easily exceed 20 in a single day. Many of them must make direct contact with the patients several times throughout the day. A change of certain PPE, especially gloves, is required before each new contact. As is obvious, the number of PPE required in such situations is enormous. Our usage is in line with international best practices and with experience at hospitals globally (Johns Hopkins:
<a href="https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/resources/COVID-19/PPE/PPE-assumptions">https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/resources/COVID-19/PPE/PPE-assumptions</a>). We understand that our approach to itemised billing may have caused misunderstanding. We will address that.</div><div> </div><div>Care that meets international standards of quality makes the difference between life and death for patients in critical condition, especially with a new disease about which the world is learning more every day. We are proud of our commitment to delivering such care, and of the extraordinary efforts we have made to ensure our staff is equipped with high-quality PPE. Both our patients and our staff deserve the best.</div><div> </div><div>For the past 40 years, we have been serving the people of Pakistan by treating the diseases that affect the population, and by educating and training health professionals to address new illnesses through international best practices. The evidence that we are realizing our founding vision includes the fact that last year Aga Khan University was ranked globally in the top 100 in clinical medicine.