Pakistan News

2m get free healthcare under KP govt’s initiative in seven years

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has provided free healthcare to two million people since the launch of the Sehat Card programme seven years ago with people aged 30-50 being the main beneficiaries.

According to a report prepared by the Sehat Card Plus programme, 552,266 KP residents in the 31-50 age bracket availed themselves of the cashless healthcare since 2015 followed by 500,506 in the 11-30 years age bracket and 450,681 in that of 51-70.

Also, 149,629 people aged over 71 years and 121,951 below 10 years of age were also beneficiaries of the PTI government’s flagship micro-health Insurance initiative.

The programme was launched in four districtsin 2015 with the collaboration with the German bank KfW covering three per cent of the province’s population. It was extended to 51 per cent of the population next year, 69 per cent in 2017 and the entire province in 2020.

Now, the programme covers all 9.7 million families of the province, including both settled and recently-merged tribal districts, said the report.

SCP chief says more hospitals being empanelled

According to officials, the people entitled to it can receive health services up to Rs1 million annually free of charge. The Sehat Card’s KP model was replicated in Punjab, Balochistan, parts of Sindh, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Women beneficiaries have outnumbered men, while transgender persons also benefited from the programme.

According to the report, private hospitals continue to have lion’s share in the amount spent by the programme on patient care.

A total of 1,100 hospitals are empanelled for the initiative across the country with most of them being private ones.

According to the report, of the total Rs48.271 billion spent by the government on the Sehat Card programme, Rs34.196 billion went to private hospitals and Rs14.075 billion to the public sector ones with the earning percentage coming to 71:29.

The report said the income of government hospitals from the programme slightly improved with their share being 13 per cent from 2016 to 2020, 27 per cent in 2021, 30 per cent in financial year 2022 and 36 per cent by December 2022.

It added that the programme covered almost all diseases, including liver and renal transplants, and that more than 100 renal transplants had been carried out with each costing Rs1.4 million.

The report said around 80 people got liver transplants under the SCP with each procedure costing Rs5 million.

It added that most of the money spent on the programme went to the care of cardiac patients followed by those receiving general surgical treatment and the cases of gynaecology, general medicine, dialysis, orthopaedics, urology, oncology, neurosurgery, throat and ophthalmology.

When contacted, SCP CEO Dr Mohammad Riaz Tanoli said the number of patients getting free treatment and diagnostic services under the Sehat Card programme had gone up since its coverage was extended to the province’s entire population.

“We are in the process of registering more hospitals to facilitate patients in their native districts. Only the hospitals offering quality services are being selected,” he said.

Dr Tanoli said the programme was removing the hospitals violating contracts.

He said new health facilities were empaneled after thorough assessment by experts.

“We have developed a web portal for Sehat Card beneficiaries to lodge complaints against hospitals,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2023

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