National Health Programme


Pitfalls that need to be avoided


The initiative taken by the Prime Minister to introduce National Health Programme for those living below poverty line would be widely appreciated.

Public welfare schemes in the past have been used by the ruling parties to achieve narrow political goals. There is a need to ensure that the National Health Programme is not seen to be solely meant for advancing the cause of the PML-N. Much will depend on the way health insurance card holders are chosen. The criterion used must leave no space for subjective judgment. Unless this is ensured, there is a likelihood of the deserving failing to get the assistance and political workers of the ruling party or cronies of the MNAs and MPAs getting the cards. While strict monitoring is needed, if it is done through a party loyalist, it might not enjoy widespread trust.

Federal money must be spent in an equitable way on all the provinces. The scheme therefore must not be seen to be mostly benefiting Punjab. In case Lahore or Faisalabad is on the list, major cities from the other three provinces as well as AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA should also be included.

There are also other questions that need to be addressed satisfactorily to ensure the credibility of the scheme. Considering $2 as minimum daily wage, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had last year included over fifty percent of the population in the category of those living below poverty line. The amount provided for the scheme in the budget for 23 districts is only Rs1 billion. Unless there is a substantial increase in the fund, it would be difficult to provide costly medicines for patients and the latest technical equipment to public hospitals and those private hospitals which support the scheme in a large number of cities. The Prime Minister’s call to the provinces to join the national level initiative is highly appropriate as the Centre alone cannot realistically bear the burden of treating such a large chunk of population after the enhancement of the share of the provinces in the common pool.


  1. Even if this program is in response of what KP has done or Imran Khan's another Cancer Hospital in Peshawar, it is good for the common man provided the intentions are good. Difficult to gauge the intentions of these poli-tics (blood-sucker politicians).

  2. Rs one billion is just a peanut as far the need of providing health facility to large population of say over 60 million in 23 districts. It seem that an equivalent sum will be wasted on the publicity of this scheme for the sake of earning name to the ruling class. Similarly $2 per day minimum wages is again a ridiculous figure as compared to what the Government has fixed the minimum wages and that too i is more ridiculous as compared to say $ 12. per hour in the western countries. This all reflect that where we are made to stand by the rulers of this country.

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