Sehat card – a sigh of relief for ailing poor

Sehat card – a sigh of relief for ailing poor


By Dr. Saeed Ahmad Ali

LAHORE, Jan 21 (APP): Right to healthcare is equally fundamental like right to education, freedom of speech and respectable living for the people in any democracy of the world. Therefore, governments in each democracy ensure that its people fully enjoy their basic rights and lead a respectable life.

However, in certain developing or poor countries, people fell short of enjoying these rights somewhere due to paucity of resources and somewhere due to over population.

People of Pakistan have also been long waiting for increased spending on health sector for improvement in health facilities provided to them. The segment with low income bore the brunt of medical treatment expenditure much than the affluent.

When the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf came into power, it also came across this challenge. Therefore, keeping in view the mess at the government hospitals and costly treatment at private hospitals, it devised a mechanism extending health facilities to all especially focusing the poor segment of the society and started it from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

After successful trial in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government extended the facility of free health coverage to all federating units by launching the unprecedented health protection initiative of Sehat Sahulat Programme (SSP) countrywide.

To achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals, this flagship health project has made it easy for the public to avail free-of-cost healthcare facility from the approved list of public and private sector hospitals for minor to complicated diseases.

Since, due to the prevailing situation of Covid-19, millions of people were pushed to extreme poverty all across the globe, the government deemed it appropriate to prioritize health sector by extending free health coverage.
The landmark program was initially aimed at providing free of cost health insurance to the limited families living below the poverty-line but slowly its spectrum was broadened to help maximum people.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has recently announced that in case of heart disease, hepatitis, liver disease, TB, AIDS, emergency and fracture, free treatment would be provided through private hospitals across the province. This free medical treatment would be provided to 30 million families and 115 million people by March 2022.

Punjab Health Minister Dr yasmeen Rashid, who will having a leading in execution of this program in the province has described it as a landmark initiative.

“It is a historic initiative by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the PTI led government,” said Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid as she described launching of “Naya Pakistan Qaumi Sehat Card” in Punjab province as another step towards a welfare state.

“It is our endeavor that by March 31st Sehat Cards are distributed among the permanent residents of Punjab province,” she recently informed a ceremony held for sehat cards distribution.

The minister said cards distribution will start in Rawalpindi from (January 20), Faisalabad (February 9), Bahawalpur (March 2), Multan (February 22), Gujranwala (March 21), and Sargodha (March 31).

“This card is a wonderful gift from the Prime Minister for the entire nation. The Naya Pakistan Qaumi Sehat Card would bring real change in the lives of people. All card holders will get free healthcare treatment of up to Rs. one million,” Yasmeen Rashid said.

The detail of the diseases to be covered under this initiative included cardiac surgery, cancer, diabetes, accidents, kidney disease, thalassemia, gyne, cancer, and other deadly diseases, she added.

It is also pertinent to mention that the card covers the entire population of the most vulnerable and marginalized classes of the society including trans-gender community and persons with disabilities.

According to NADRA officials, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Tharparker district in Sindh are the main areas where all permanent residents have been provided the Sehat Sahulat cards. In these regions, more than 8 million families (43 million persons) have been covered with universal health insurance coverage.

Similarly besides Punjab, Islamabad capital territory (ICT) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the programme has been upgraded by covering around six million families (32 million persons), living below the poverty line in the country, the officials added.

Universal coverage data is secured from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) based permanent residents’ record, which is available in Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) of each individual.

Meanwhile as per NADRA database on line record, the ‘central family’ is the basic unit in the Sehat Sahulat Program. A family, according to this unit is included of husband, his wife and their unmarried children.

It is worth mentioning here that SSP beneficiary satisfaction rate based on 3rd party feedback survey is 97 percent. The program is also ensuring proper gate keeping through outdoor patient facilitation counters in all panel hospitals and health centers to avoid ineligible or unnecessary services.

This program also additionally offers standard transport charges to the patients along with their families at the time of discharge from panel hospitals including the burial charges in case the patient expires during treatment.