PESHAWAR: The provincial heath department has included people with disabilities and transgender persons in its Sehat Sahulat Programme under which they would get free treatment in the designated public and private hospitals.

Officials said that the department would start issuance of Sehat Insaf Cards next week and the recipients would be eligible to avail of free treatment at the hospitals of their choice.

The premium amount for the transgender persons would be paid by the social welfare department, which is estimated at Rs751,000 a year. The State Life Insurance Corporation is implementing the programme for the government.

Issuance of health cards to start next week, say officials

The health department has received data from the social welfare department according to which there are 125,000 disabled people in the province who would be covered under the programme on the directives of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.

The officials said that the disabled people would get free treatment besides other facilities they were already getting under the law. They said that the province had 485 registered transgender persons according to data provided by the social welfare department. They said that most of the transgender persons didn’t have computerised national identity cards, but they would be allowed free diagnostic and treatment services on the registration numbers.

They said that the free treatment initiative was launched by the government in January this year under which 69,000 people had been treated so far.

They said that the programme was initially meant to cover 51 per cent of the population or 1.8 million families, but last month it was extended and now the coverage would reach 69 per cent or 2.5 million families.

The sources said that the newly-included families would start receiving free treatment under the programme early next year, while the disabled population and transgender persons would stand eligible for the free of cost medication when they would get cards next week.

The officials said that printing of cards had been started and the distribution would be started next week. According to them, the government has been providing free healthcare services at about 110 hospitals, both public and private, in almost every district of the province. Following complaints by people that some of the diseases have not been covered under the programme, the health department included breast cancer and Pemphigus vulgaris – a rare skin disease whose treatment is very expensive – to benefit the patients.

The programme allows one family of eight members to avail of treatment up to Rs540,000 at the designated hospital and in case of need a member of the same family could spend the whole amount, they said. The KP government has allocated Rs5.4 billion for two years (2017 and 2018) and with the addition of more families it gave another Rs1.69 billion for the programme, they said.

The programme now has Rs3.68 billion for 2018 under which the designated population would get full coverage for the ailments requiring admission in the hospitals.

The officials said that the programme currently covered only hospitalised patients due to which most of the card-holder people couldn’t benefit from it. Therefore, the government is piloting a programme from Mardan where the people with SICs would get free diagnosis and treatment facilities at the outpatient departments.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2017