ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s National Health Programme that is being implemented in 23 districts of the country will be extended to another 15 districts within a month after which nearly 1.5 million more individuals will be able to benefit from the free health facilities.

This was announced by Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Saira Afzal Tarar while chairing a meeting held on Tuesday to review the programme’s progress.

The meeting was informed that currently 10m people had access to the programme’s facilities and treatment.

The programme was launched by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Dec 31, 2015, for Islamabad and was described as the first step towards turning Pakistan into a welfare state.

The scheme was supposed to be extended to Punjab, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as the governments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtun­khwa declined to become part of the programme.

However, in January last year, Mr Sharif announced the decision to extend the programme across the country. The new districts, in which scheme will be launched, include Muzaffar­garh, Vehari, Lodhran, Multan, Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Khushab, Bahawal­pur, Bahawalnagar, Hafiz­abad (Punjab), Naushahro Feroz (Sindh), Qilla Abdullah and Khuzdar (Balochistan).

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2018