PESHAWAR: The Sehat Sahulat Programme, launched by the previous PTI-led provincial government for free treatment of people, is likely to play role in the election campaign as about 110,000 persons have been benefited from it so far.

The programme, initiated with an outlay of Rs5.4 billion in January 2017, enabled the families with $2 per day income to seek free treatment in the health facilities both public and private sectors. The beneficiaries of the programme are likely to vote for PTI in the polls scheduled for July 25.

Initially, the programme was supposed to provide health coverage to 1.8 million families or 51 per cent population of the province but later it was extended to 600,000 more families, raising total coverage to 69 per cent population.

About 110,000 persons have benefited from Sehat Sahulat Programme so far

The provincial health department, which enforced the programme through State Life Insurance Corporation, also increased the amount to Rs6.8 billion to provide free health services to more people.

Under the programme, each of the entitled family has been issued Sehat Insaf Card (SIC) that enabled the family to get free treatment up to Rs540,000 at any of the total 110 hospitals in the province. The cards are re-chargeable which means the entitled families would continue to avail the services as far as the programme remains in progress.

Eight members of the entitled family can avail free treatment under the initiative.

A senior cardiologist at one of the private facilities told Dawn that they received patients of poor families with SICs and provided them with diagnostic and treatment facilities.

He said that without those cards, the poor people couldn’t think of such treatment. The private hospitals have been the main beneficiaries of the programme as they are getting the amount spent on the treatment of patients at the end of every month without any delay.

A patient at the same hospital said that he would like to see the PTI victorious in the coming polls as it would ensure free treatment services of his family members.

The health department has so far spent Rs3 billion on the treatment of people and the programme will run as almost more than this amount still remains unspent.

Statistics show that the beneficiaries of the scheme include 60 per cent heart patients, 20 per cent general surgery patients and 10 per cent each trauma and cancer patients.

A patient with cardiac problem, who was treated at a public sector hospital at a cost of Rs300,000, told this correspondent that the programme was a blessing for him. He said that without the programme, it was not possible for him to seek treatment.

A general surgeon told Dawn that he didn’t know if the people would vote or not for PTI due to SSP in the election but it had proved a main source for people to seek quality treatment at the hospitals that were meant for rich people.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2018