Our History | From Children Ward to NICH

Pediatrics in Pakistan was second to discipline of General Medicine till 1962. There were only few Pediatricians that could be counted on finger tips in the country. They were either a part of the Department of Medicine or in general practice. That year a children hospital was set up with the sponsorship of UNICEF in the compound of the Jinnah Hospital, as part of School of Pediatrics. This was first step towards the recognition of Pediatrics as separate specialty, and start of training in pediatrics in Pakistan. The Jinnah Hospital though a Federal Government Institution, was still affiliated to the Dow Medical College and one of its staff members, Dr. Hamid Ali Khan, a qualified Pediatrician from UK, was shifted from the Department of Medicine Dow Medical College to head this newly created institution. Initially situated in a barrack located near the present Director’s office of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), it was later shifted to the old casualty department of Jinnah Hospital, now Dental Section (Sindh Institute of Oral Health Sciences) of Jinnah Sindh Medical University (a heritage building). Due to the addition of section of Pediatric Surgery soon after under Prof. Amanullah Khan, the first floor of the building was occupied by the Pediatrics and half of the ground floor by the Pediatric Surgery. The other half was shared by both Pediatrics and Pediatric Surgery for out-patients. This was also the formal beginning of discipline of Pediatric Surgery in Pakistan, much earlier than in most of the western countries.

In 1963 Jinnah Hospital was separated from Dow medical College and designated as the first Post-Graduate Medical Center of the country, starting the fellowship training programs in various specialties with the cooperation of Indiana University of USA. Pediatrics was one of them. Formal training for MCPS Pediatrics was started same year. Additionally a program of Diarrhea Research was set up under PL 40 program. Indeed this was the first research project of the country in the medical field. Another research project of study on the incidence of Phenylketonueria in Karachi Children was also started. In Pediatric surgery Burns research projects was initiated in 1970. There was fair amount of exchange of teachers between Indiana University and JPMC. Gradually the staff of the School of Pediatrics also grew in number.

Soon a sixty beds Children Hospital became too small for the needs of the growing number of patients. A proposal for the construction of new first multistory children hospital of Karachi was approved in 1965, but due to the war it took another five years to complete the building at the site of previous civil surgeon’s office of Federal Government. During this period this new project of expansion of School of Pediatrics faced many ups and downs. In late 1971 the old furniture with the existing staff of the school of Pediatrics was shifted from JPMC to the new building. The Medical Unit occupying the first floor and Surgical the 2nd floor. Still being part of the JPMC where the ward was assigned the number of I8 and 19 they continued to be designated as ward 18 and 19, and later with further expansion 18 Unit I, II , III and 19A and 19B.This nomenclature continues to this day as well. In 1979 President Zia ul Haq paid a visit to the School of Pediatrics and at the request of the senior staff declared it as the National Institute of Child Health (NICH).

In April 1990, NICH separated from JPMC, and made an attached department of the Federal Ministry of Health. Prof. Nizam ul Hassan, the senior pediatric surgeon of the country, was made its first Executive Director. Since then many new projects have been completed and many are presently running. PC I of future expansion of facilities are in pipeline and hopefully will make this institution a center of excellence of world standard, which at present is trend setter for other institutions of the country.