Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday launched the Prime Minister’s National Health Programme aimed at providing free-of-cost healthcare to the poorest citizens of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The scheme to be launched initially in two AJK districts, Muzaffarabad and Kotli, will benefit 82,362 and 79,004 families, respectively.
The health programme was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz in Islamabad on December 31 last year. The scheme is designed for poor families whose daily income is less than Rs 200 ($2) with free of cost access to secondary as well as priority diseases treatment.
The annual cover of the scheme is up to Rs 300,000, extendable to Rs 600,000. In the first phase, the programme will be implemented in 23 districts of Pakistan.
Muzaffarabad is the second district where the programme is launched to provide in hospital services to around 82,000 poor beneficiaries.
Launching the scheme in Muzaffarabad, Prime Minister Nawaz said the government is determined to provide free-of-cost treatment to poor patients.
He said that the programme is part of the manifesto of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and that every effort will be made to provide free health cover to the needy people.
PM Sharif said the scheme will be extended to all parts of the country to benefit the poor as poverty is one of the reasons behind several diseases. He said the government gives priority to the welfare of people with education and health on the top of its list.
The premier said that the government is developing infrastructure, trying to overcome the energy shortage and working hard to eliminate terrorism from the country.
He appreciated all philanthropists, civil society members and welfare organizations working to provide free-of-cost or concessional treatment to the poor.
He said one could think of the pain of parents whose young children died for want of treatment which they could not afford because of financial constraints.
“People have to sell their property to foot the bills for treatment of their loved ones suffering from deadly diseases. Under this programme, such poor patients would be able to avail treatment facilities free of charge,” he said, adding that launch of such a programme, under which the people would get treatment facilities in a dignified way, was an honour for the government.
He recalled that the deserving patients were getting free treatment facilities at Ittefaq Hospital and Sharif Medical City in Lahore.
He said the government had launched educational reforms in the country as it wanted elimination of poverty, ignorance and unemployment from the country.
On the health issue, he said the PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party were on the same page as both wanted provision of health facilities to the poor and impoverished people.
The prime minister also announced two buses and Rs 100 million grant for Muzaffarabad Medical College.
Nawaz Sharif on the occasion distributed health cards among the deserving people.
Earlier on his arrival in Muzaffarabad, Prime Minister Nawaz was received by AJK President Sardar Yaqub, Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed and other notables of the area.
Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs Chaudhry Barjees Tahir, Minister of State for Health Saira Afzal Tarar, Special Assistant to PM Asif Kirmani and Maryam Nawaz Sharif accompanied the prime minister.