Cancer hospital trust denies misuse of fund

 
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LAHORE: Reacting to a news item reported in sections of the press, the management of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) clarified on Sunday its funds have never been misused or “diverted”, for any reason, by its Chairman, Imran Khan, or by any other individual or entity.
The SKMT spokesperson stated all its funds, including those invested in its endowment fund, are used only to support its mission, namely the provision of world-class care to cancer patients.

The spokesperson said, “As is common for many charity organisations, SKMT created an endowment fund to provide financial security and to cater for expenses in the long term. This endowment fund is supervised by an investment committee, with all investments made by the fund upon the recommendations of this committee. The chairman does not, and has never, made investment decisions in isolation.” The spokesperson maintained, “It is crucial to point out that only non-Zakat funds are invested in this manner, with all Zakat collected being utilised on direct patient care within the year in which it is collected. In 2008, an amount of US$3 million was invested by the endowment fund in a real estate project in Oman. The investment allowed for an early exit, with a 100% capital guarantee on the investment . In 2015, SKMT exercised its early exit option and the entire amount of US$3 million was duly recovered.”

The spokesperson said the SKMT has already shared full details of this investment, and full recovery of its funds, numerous times, with the public. It is relevant to mention that, although the investment did not generate a profit for the Trust in dollar terms, it certainly did in rupee terms, since the difference in exchange rate referred to in the article in question actually worked in favour of SKMT.

The spokesperson reiterated, “As with all other financial transactions, any and all investments made by SKMT and its Endowment Fund are duly audited and reported, with financial reports being made publicly available through the Shaukat Khanum website. Both the initial investment, and its subsequent return were reflected in the organisation’s financial reports, and continue to be publicly available.”

The spokesperson said full records of all donations are maintained and audited by independent third parties to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations, not only within Pakistan, but in all jurisdictions where funds are collected on behalf of the SKMT, or with the aim of supporting it.

The spokesperson maintained that over thirty years, the trust and confidence of many millions of donors has enabled the treatment of 45,000 to 50,000 cancer patients every year at SKMT hospitals in Lahore and Peshawar, most of whom would have been unable to access highly specialised cancer treatment elsewhere. It is precisely because of its robust clinical, administrative and governance structures that the SKMT, incorporating all its facilities in Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, became only the second organisation in the entire world to gain the prestigious Enterprise Accreditation from the US-based Joint Commission International in September 2022.

The spokesperson reiterated that all contributions to SKMCH&RC are used solely for fulfilling SKMT’s mission of providing free cancer treatment to those unable to pay. Allegations and insinuations which aim to sow doubt in the minds of our donors as to how their donations are used by SKMCH&RC are tantamount to playing with patient’s lives.

The cost of providing cancer care in line with international recommendations is continuously on the rise, and despite brittle financial conditions, the management of SKMT remains steadfast in its commitment, not only to provide state-of-the-art comprehensive cancer treatment to all its patients, but also to defend vigorously its hard-won and excellent reputation for financial prudence and transparency, the spokesperson added.