Differently-abled persons to be provided health coverage, free assistive devices: Dr Nishtar

Updated June 08, 2019

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Chairperson of the Ehsas programme Dr Sania Nishtar says that the government will implement measures to facilitate differently-abled persons under Ehsas programme. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Chairperson of the Ehsas programme Dr Sania Nishtar says that the government will implement measures to facilitate differently-abled persons under Ehsas programme. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

Chairperson of the Ehsas programme Dr Sania Nishtar on Saturday briefed the media about the measures that the government plans to implement in order to facilitate differently-abled people across the country.

Under the Ehsas programme, which was launched in March this year, the government will provide Sehat Insaf cards to differently-abled people who are registered with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) so that they can get free medical treatment from hospitals that are registered under the health cards, Nishtar announced.

Furthermore, government hospitals have been directed to issue certificates to differently-abled people as per United Nations classifications so that free assistive devices, such as canes, wheelchairs etc., can be provided accordingly.

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The government will provide free white canes to the visually-impaired and wheelchairs to those paralysed from the waist down, she said. The government will also provide free hearing aids to people with hearing impairment under the Tahaffuz programme, which will be launched in September, Nishtar added.

Nishtar, who was appointed as special assistant to the prime minister on social protection and poverty alleviation last month, said that according to an estimate, around five million people in Pakistan face some form of disability.

Apart from the provision of medical facilities, the government will also ensure that government institutions abide by the constitutional requirement to allocate two per cent job quota for differently-abled persons. Nishtar regretted that the requirement was not fulfilled and said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has "taken strong notice" of the matter.

The government will also reserve 1pc quota for differently-abled people in the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme as well as in government housing societies in different cities, the Ehsas programme chairperson revealed.

As part of the Ehsas initiative, the government will also establish centres in 20 underdeveloped districts in order to assist people who require artificial limbs due to loss of arms or legs.

Nishtar said that the government has allocated funds, constituted committees and initiated the consultation process with institutions and provincial governments, but added that the implementation of the planned measures will take some time.

She also revealed that the Planning Commission of Pakistan had issued a directive to all ministries and instructed them to make sure that the PC-I forms — which contain details of any project pertaining to infrastructure, production or social sectors — are "disability sensitive".

"This is just the beginning," Nishtar said of the government efforts. "We will focus on how this programme can be expanded and improved. Most importantly, [we will focus on] how we can ensure that there is no corruption or leakages [in this programme]."

Before coming to power, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had promised to provide medical facilities, jobs and housing to differently-abled people.