PESHAWAR: Beneficiaries of the Sehat Sahulat Programme (SSP) are likely to increase by at least 600,000 from the existing 2.4 million after implementation of the government’s plan to link data with the National Database and Registration Authority, according to relevant officials.

So far, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been extending free treatment under SSP on the basis of data provided by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) under which the people have been getting free medical services on the basis of household. Each of the households consists of eight members which included family as well as other relatives such as nephew, niece, etc sharing the same household.

“The data hasn’t been traceable because BISP was not linked to Nadra. Often, the authorities as well as patients face embarrassment because their relationship couldn’t be confirmed with head of the household,” the officials said. They said that a complete coordination between KP and Nadra would make the system trouble-free and fast.

Sehat Sahulat Programme now to be linked with Nadra

The programme is being linked with Nadra and the household changed to family so that the people could be identified from the system easily. The number of beneficiaries may go up as there will be no limit on the deserving families whether they have eight or more children against the present arrangements under which eight members of a household are entitled to free medication on a single Sehat Insaf Card.

Authorities expect the number of entitled population may go up to three million from the present 2.4 million for which the government will increase allocation. The KP Health Department had been requesting Nadra to link SSP’s data with the system from the past one and a half years, but the later didn’t agree because of the PML-N’s federal government and Nadra being a federal department didn’t cooperate with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led provincial government.

After linkage with Nadra, the deserving population will get smooth services because the system would enable the people to get verified soon after visiting the health facilities. Moreover, the patients would be able to get information about their cards from a portal through which they would send an SMS to Nadra to get their status verified.

As opposed to the existing mechanism in which 800,000 remained missing or as many cards remained undistributed and the authorities had no proper system to trace their names, there will now be better complaint management system as well.

Designated hospitals for the SSP also encountered problems in identification of patients as it was difficult task to trace data of members of the household. Even the verification of genuine patients took longer time to get verified in the absence of data.

The government started the first phase of SSP in four districts in December 2015 and covered 100,000 households, three per cent of the province’s population.

In early 2017, the programme was extended to the entire province with a coverage of 51 per cent households which enhanced to 69 per cent in November the same year. The State Life Insurance Corporation, which implemented SSP on behalf of the government, enrolled 85 per cent of the target population in 2017 and only 15 per cent in 2018 due to the fact that BISP’s data collected in 2009 wasn’t traceable.

The officials said that changes in the programme were being made in the light of past experience to reach all the deserving people.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018