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With the PML-N government stepping up its campaigning efforts for the 2018 General Election, the party introduced the Prime Minister's National Health Programme in Narowal.

The scheme was first launched in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced on the occasion that around 160,000 families in Narowal will receive a health card under the scheme.

"People do not have enough money to buy medicine. They don't even have enough money to travel to the hospital. I would wonder how they are managing," he said, adding that the real duty of political workers is to serve the people of Pakistan.

Read more: Health cards will not end Pakistan's healthcare nightmare

"The government will cover medical bills (per card per family) that amount to more than Rs250,000. If it exceeds that limit, the treasury will chip in," the PM added.

Treatments for cardiovascular diseases — such as bypass surgeries or angioplasty treatments — as well as other complicated and expensive treatments are included in the scheme, he said.

Salient features of the PM's National Health Programme

  • Treatment for the underprivileged at both public and private hospitals without delay
  • Rs50,000 on PM's cards for treatment of common illnesses
  • Rs300,000 set aside for treatment of serious medical conditions
  • Limit can be extended to Rs600,000 if funds run out during treatment at a hospital
  • Toll-free number set up for registering patients' complaints

Minister of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar termed it a 'pro-women' programme.

Read more: Caesarian deliveries to be discouraged under national health programme

"Health is a devolved subject and it is in the care of the provinces, but no prime minister has done more for health than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif," she said.

"People are saying we are just electioneering. But please do not put [unncessary] obstacles in our programme because remember, you have to contest in elections too," Tarar said.

Minister of Planning and Development of Pakistan Ahsan Iqbal, while addressing the audience, said back in 2013, Pakistan's economy was struggling.

"Five years later, under the PML-N government, a prestigious news outlet like The Economist has ranked Pakistan as one of the top-five fastest-growing economies in the world," Iqbal added.

"This scheme is benefiting the poorest of the poor. A labourer, a widow — who could only wish for the same treatment the privileged receive at hospitals — will now have the same access thanks to this programme," he said.

The initiative was initially launched in Islamabad, but was planned to be expanded to all parts of Punjab, Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in later stages.

The programme targets the most vulnerable segments of the population, especially those who earn as low as Rs200 per day.

Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will not benefit from the initiative because their governments have declined to become part of the federal government programme.

Comments (27) Closed

Falcon1 Jan 12, 2017 04:10pm


Do the sitting wealthy PMs qualify under this program?

Or do they have to suffer the trip all the way to London for a routine medical procedure??

Wish you would announce one for Lahore and ISB too to cover 'everyone' under this scheme.

Mahmood Jan 12, 2017 04:25pm

Should we call it 'Cosmetic Surgery' to look good for re-election for 2018?

Isn't it strange he never initiates these programs in major cities with educated and enlightened folks live. It is always in some rural backwater, where people can easily be swayed to vote for him by dolling out some medical cards - all at the expense of the rest of the tax-paying public!?

You can fool some of the people, some of the time. Not all of the people, all of the time.

Logicaldude Jan 12, 2017 04:27pm

When was the first phase of the program unveiled. How many people benefited and in what way or is the first phase? What is the reaction of providers and consumers? What is the total budgetary allocation for the account? Why were these districts chosen for the introduction of the program? What is government time table for the rest of the province.

Danish Jan 12, 2017 04:34pm

Too little too late. No where near lab of SKMH.

art kp Jan 12, 2017 04:40pm

Let's just call it NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM not PMs NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM because it's tax payers money not PMs personal wealth.

javed Jan 12, 2017 04:38pm

Certainly and genuinely a great step, but pray do tell, why call it 'National' when it is only being launched in Punjab. Can you blame the other provinces to feel left out?

Reza Jan 12, 2017 04:44pm

I'm not a fan of this government, but if this scheme gives benefits to even some poor people, and saves lives, then I am all for it.

For a developing country like Pakistan, this is a major success, if implemented as intended. Jan 12, 2017 04:43pm

good work PM

Skeptic Jan 12, 2017 04:50pm

Something tells me this program is going to only as successful as Obamacare. Which, looks increasingly being repealed as early as next week, when Trump takes office.

So, all this sugar-coated pills to garner some votes for 2018 may just last a little bit longer than Obamacare.

Sa Jan 12, 2017 04:58pm

@mahmood ... The people is isb and LHR at least some of them can afford medical services ... Such cards and schemes are only meant for the underprivileged and needy not residents of gulberg and Isb hence the program being launched in Narowal ... The educated and enlightened can afford medical services

Skeptic Jan 12, 2017 04:55pm

@Sa - You failed to see the sarcasm in Mahmood's comment.

SAB Jan 12, 2017 05:15pm

With every passing day in the Panama case hearing, the prime minister is on spree of inaugurating 'welfare' projects

Israr Jan 12, 2017 05:17pm

@Sa You'd be surprised to know a large part of the poor people of these backward districts have been forced to move to Lahore because of zero job opportunities in their home districts. These people are living in the same, if not worse, conditions in Lahore. I guess you have never been to Lahore recently which is why you feel Lahore is only Gulberg. I challenge anyone driving a car to stop anywhere in Lahore and you are bound to see at least 3-4 "rich" residents of Lahore begging you for money.

Merchant Jan 12, 2017 05:29pm

What about Healthcare of rest of Pakistan?? This Narowal plan is nothing but a political gimmick to gain votes and distract attention from never ending Panamagate!! If Nawaz Sharif is sincere then there should be a national plan for healthcare not just for Narowal!!

Merchant Jan 12, 2017 05:28pm

This is the worst waste of taxpayers money to fund a political party's elections campaign!! Narowal healthcare is one of them!!

KHALID YOUSAFZAI (UK) Jan 12, 2017 05:47pm

Is there any scope of providing clean water to children in the schools? Shall this programme cover free medication (ofcourse proper standard) to the poor and dying patients? If so I will vote NS to be the PM for next 5 years. I will opt to work for Pakistan FREE for 5 years too...

ABE Jan 12, 2017 05:43pm

Ah, nice to see our hard-earned tax money is being used to help out the poor!

But wait, Nawaz Sharif dolling out these schemes - all at the expense of the rest of us. He doesn't pay, if any, taxes in Pakistan or elsewhere. The offshore companies see to it.

Ironic, that he's using our money, to win support for his re-election, while we grumble about Panama Gate!?

Insult over injury!

Shahid Jan 12, 2017 05:54pm

Just clean up pollution, air, water and environment and medical issues mushrooming among masses will drastically drop. These pre-election gimics are simply equivalent to bribe and manipulate simple folks instead of addressing real issues. Spend real money where it is needed for long term benefits and not towards short term selfish ends.

Mansoor Ali Khan Jan 12, 2017 06:01pm

But PM will still go to London for his own treatment..

Mansoor Ali Khan Jan 12, 2017 06:02pm

why only in Punjab?????

Sab Se Pehle Pakistan Jan 12, 2017 06:03pm

No harm in saying. Honourable PM promissed "Dhai Arab Rupees" for Lodhra. Not a single penny has been given. This is all pre poll rigging.

Sab Se Pehle Pakistan Jan 12, 2017 06:05pm

@Mansoor Ali Khan "why only Panjab?" because honourable PM is the PM of Panjab only.

S Khan Jan 12, 2017 06:13pm

Mr. PM , are you the PM of Pakistan or Punjab?

dawood ghani Jan 12, 2017 06:32pm

Chapeau to him!! he knows how to buy votes of poor. my Narowali friends and family members should avoid falling into this honey trap of open bribery. it is the responsibility of every government to provide basic health to all without y to scoring some cheap winning points

PM should also disclose to public the origin of the financial resources to run this expensive scheme. I am pretty sure this must be given in the form of a loan by some international financial institution. How long will this loan last and weather or not is sustainable. Are there enough doctors and hospitals in my dear district to provide health facilities to remotely located villages??? for God Sake PM NS leave this country alone which is already drowning under an enormous external debt of nearly 80 billions USD. How would you pay back all this debt plus interests, just By building more roads, bridges and issuing health cards? Just insane!!!!!!!! A man of poor or no vision and no long term objectives.

Princess_of_DHUMP Jan 12, 2017 07:39pm

@Mahmood Dear Einstein - The scheme targets the most vulnerable (i.e. ones making less than 250 Rs. a day) and wide majority of them are in the rural areas. Also, rural areas have lesser hospitals than the urban areas. If it was just for 'seats' he would have launched it in say Rawalpindi division which has over 10 seats in the National Assembly then going to Narowal which has just one. As a nation we are so negative that even the developmental initiatives are looked at from the prism of narrow political affiliations

abe Jan 12, 2017 07:58pm

@PrincessofDHUMP - Queen of Dumb! Ask yourself:

Who created the climate that even a seemingly noble cause will be looked at suspiciously by the public - where the possibilities could exist to line some pockets, grease some palms, buy some votes or simply make the money vanish and into foreign accounts, since there is no oversight, parliamentary approval required, no audit and not accountability!??? Does Panama ring any bells??

Is this enough for now, or should I carry on till some toes curl and hair stand out on the back of the necks??

Shiraz Jan 13, 2017 07:39am

What they were doing in last 4 years, did PM visit that hospital where an old Pakistani lady dies on the floor of the hospital?