PESHAWAR: The government’s plan to extend Sehat Sahulat Programme to the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by September this year is subject to establishing linkage with Nadra to ensure verification of the beneficiaries and deployment of adequate staff to ensure monitoring of the health facilities contracted for providing free health services throughout the province.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa model of SSP has been extended by federal government to Punjab and is set to cover all families in the province from September 30 in case the crucial requirements are fulfilled at the earliest, according to senior health officials.

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, who chaired a meeting to review SSP’s extension to the whole population on July 24, was informed that the programme was being connected with Nadra for accurate data about the people. So far, the beneficiaries were selected on the basis of record provided by Benazir Income Support Programme, which was not authentic. Hundreds of deserving people, according to that data, were untraceable.

Nadra to ensure verification of programme’s beneficiaries

Officials said that a summary to hire the services of Nadra was sent to chief secretary and once it was approved, speedy progress on the plan would be started. The programme presently covers 69 per cent population.

The main obstacle to the staff is verification of the patients receiving treatment on Sehat Insaf Card (SICs) because no proper mechanism exists and Nadra will ensure that the right people use the card.

The meeting was informed that Nadra would act as third party evaluation because the department was facing audit objections during the past three years for lack of proper record of people.

The management information system of SSP will be connected with Nadra and an agreement will be signed with it following the government’s approval.

Second hindrance in smooth-sailing of the programme was the shortage of staff as about 20 workers, with a few technical people among them, it was difficult to cover the health facilities throughout the province, the meeting was told.

The SSP requires 80 people to ensure that all designated hospitals provide better services to the patients according to the agreement.

The programme is implemented by State Life Insurance Corporation on behalf of the government that carries out registration and facilitates the holders of Sehat Insaf Cards for free services at the hospitals. Nadra will be entrusted with the task of verification.

The SSP, which designated 108 hospitals at the start, struck off over 30 for failing to provide cash medication to the people. The meeting was told that with enhanced staffing and in collaboration with Health Care Commission, the programme would be streamlined on scientific grounds and the people would receive quality diagnostic and treatment services.

The package for the patients under the SSP has been increased from Rs300, 000 to Rs400, 000 with the facility of getting the same amount again after spending on intensive care.

The SSP was started in December 2016 initially to 24 per cent population. It has provided free health facilities to over 140,000 patients at the designated hospitals but the meeting was informed that an awareness campaign would be launched to inform the people to start using the cards for free of cost treatment both at the government and private sector hospitals.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2019