–Over 80m people or 10.5m households to receive free medical treatment worth Rs720,000 in private or govt hospitals
–PM says govt trying its best to provide relief to masses hit by inflation
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the first phase of the countrywide Sehat Insaf Card scheme to provide free medical treatment to approximately 80 million people.
The Sehat Insaf Card is part of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Sehat Sahulat Programme that was launched as a health insurance scheme for the first time in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2016.
While addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Imran said, “It was first issued to half of all households, then to 69 per cent of poor households in KP,” adding that “it made a big difference”.
Under the scheme, over 80 million people ─ or 10.5 million households living below the poverty line ─ will receive free medical treatment worth Rs720,000 in private or state-owned hospitals. In addition to that, more than 150 hospitals will provide free treatment to people, including procedures such as angioplasty, brain surgery and cancer.
“The cards will be distributed in Islamabad, then our tribal areas and then all over the country,” the premier said.
He said it is the first time in the country’s history that such a big package has been announced for the less privileged people. He said 15 million people will be provided the health cards in the next two years. He said this scheme is being launched in Punjab, Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, FATA and the federal capital.
He said especially in tribal districts, these cards will be provided to each family. In Islamabad, 85,000 families will be provided with the cards.
“Each card holder will also be provided transport charges of Rs1, 000 on every visit to the hospital,” PM Imran said.
He further noted that the underprivileged or working class individuals usually have a difficult time surviving on their salaries and meeting their household expenses.
“When there’s an illness, their entire budget is upset,” he explained. “Research has shown that many households struggle financially due to illness” since they are already surviving at subsistence level.
“When a member of an underprivileged household falls ill, the family has to sell everything in order to afford treatment,” he said.
“It’s very important that we protect our poor with health cards so that if someone in their homes falls ill, they know that they can just take the health card to a hospital and receive treatment,” PM Khan said.
Furthermore, a national steering committee comprising representatives from the federal, provincial and regional health departments will also be formed to review performance under this scheme.
Khan conceded that citizens have been facing difficulties due to rupee devaluation and the ensuing rise in prices. “We are aware that people are going through hard times. The rates of gas and electricity have risen. We are aware. We are trying our best to ease circumstances as much as possible for those most affected.”
The premier said he would announce a comprehensive poverty alleviation programme in the coming days. Additionally, he said, the government would provide cheap loans to needy people so they can build homes.
Highlighting main features of the Sehat Insaaf Card, Health Minister Aamir Kiani said, “Under this scheme, each deserving family will be able to get medical treatment worth Rs720, 000 annually,” adding that “it will cover treatment of all diseases except transplant”.
“Three new hospitals will be established in Islamabad and the existing health facilities are also being upgraded,” he further said, adding that a budget has been allocated for this purpose.