The new hospital, in an area where women’s hospitals had been shuttered in the 1950s and 1960s, has been funded by the state to provide a “cultural genocide” and women’s healthcare is to be replaced with men’s care.
“This is the first time in a decade that we have had a women’s health centre in the whole country,” Dr Shafiqur Rahman, who leads the Women’s Health Centre in Kharif, said on Monday.
“It is an honour to build the women’s centre and it will be a cultural genocide for women to be in this space.”
Mr Rahman said the women in the new women’s ward were expected to make up half of the staff, and the new centre was to be the first in the country to be built with a women-only model.
The government has allocated $10.5 million to build and operate the centre, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.
“I think the women of the country will appreciate the fact that this is the only place where they can be given a place to come and see a doctor and have their needs met,” Dr Rahman said.
The new centre is part of a wider project to build women’s centres across Pakistan.
It comes after the closure of the women-owned women’s medical hospital in Karachi, which was run by women from different social classes, including poor women, migrant workers and women from the rural areas.
The government has pledged to fund at least half of construction costs of the new facility.
The health minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, said the project would bring better quality healthcare for women.
“We will bring health care to the poorest of the poor, provide medical care to all of them and provide a new and improved health system for women in Pakistan,” he said.
In the first women’s clinic in Pakistan, women were allowed to use their own medicine, unlike in other parts of the world.
But the new health centre is to provide better quality care for women, including treating urinary tract infections, which are common in rural Pakistan, and chronic diseases like malaria and pneumonia, which can cause infertility.
Last year, the World Health Organization said Pakistan ranked among the 10 most dangerous countries for women and girls, with the highest rates of maternal and newborn deaths, and one of the highest infant mortality rates.