PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has spent over Rs1 billion on the free treatment of the people under the Sehat Insaf Card programme launched in Jan 2017.
The mega project was launched early this year to provide free treatment for all major diseases to the poor people at a cost of Rs5.2 billion in two years, officials told the media.
Under the plans, it will cover 1.8 million families or 150 million people selected on the basis of the Benazir Income Support Programme data.
Until now, the department has spent Rs 1.18 billion on the treatment of 53,000 people, mostly with heart diseases, traffic accidents, cancer and maternity-related problems.
Initially, the programme moved on at a snail’s pace as the people didn’t take interest. However, more and more people with SICs benefited from the programme in the last three months for their free treatment as it allowed them to seek medication at the facilities of their choice.
The government has designated 102 health facilities, including public and private ones. The medical teaching institution, Lady Reading Hospital, received over 3,000 patients followed by the Rehman Medical Institute, North West General Hospital and Research Centre, Hayatabad medical Complex and Khyber Teaching Hospital, Peshawar.
The private hospitals in Swabi, Mardan, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Batkhela and other areas are also getting more and more patients compared to the programme’s initial days when most people preferred Peshawar’s private hospitals for treatment.
Earlier, the government hospitals failed to receive patients under the programme for lacking strategy for the admission and treatment of the people.
However, they developed proper mechanisms to receive patients after seeing the bulk of the amount received by their private contemporaries.
The State Life Insurance Corporation, which is implementing the programme on behalf of the provincial government, has established separate counters at designated hospitals to handle programme beneficiaries and provided the expenses of treatment at the end of every month. The public sector hospitals expedited their plans to receive more patients and generate their revenues as all cardholders were treated as private patients.
The officials said given the people’s interest, the health department expected to spend Rs1.75 billion on patient care under the programme by the end of the current fiscal.
They also said the government had also decided to cover 600,000 more families in the programme to spend allocations.
The officials said currently, the programme covered 51 percent of the province’s population, which will reach 69 percent after the inclusion of the new families.
They added that the programme’s beneficiaries would total 175 million in the days ahead.
The officials said the government was likely to include new families in the free treatment programme from Oct 1.
They said initially, the people from Mardan, Swabi, Charsadda, Peshawar and Nowshera would be enrolled.
Recently, the government also allowed including transgender persons in the programme but they didn’t have computerised national identity cards due to which they couldn’t be benefited immediately.
However, the National Database Registration Authority has begun the provision of CNICs to them to ensure their eligibility for the programme.