PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department is likely to cancel Sehat Insaf Cards on the recommendation of federal government, which has found after forensic analysis that thousands of ineligible people have been included in the survey of Benazir Income Support Programme.

The same data has been used for distribution of SICs among poor people.

“We have recommended to the health ministry that Sehat Insaf Cards issued to well-off people should be withdrawn,” Dr Sania Nishtar, special assistant to prime minister on poverty alleviation and social protection, told Dawn.

She said that they found that 820,165 beneficiaries of BISP did not deserve government’s assistance and were enrolled fraudulently. “Therefore, we have recommended that such names should be struck off the list free treatment programme,” she added.

Dr Sania said that 277, 266 (33.81 per cent) of the fake entries belonged to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; 243,380 (29.63 per cent) hailed from Punjab; 183,042 (22.32 per cent) Sindh; 45,280 (5.52 per cent) Balochistan; 43,445 (5 per cent) from ex-Fata; 17,361 (2.12 per cent) from Azad Kashmir; 8,297 (1.01 per cent) from Gilgit-Baltistan; and 2,094 (0.26 per cent) belonged to Islamabad.

Officials say about 20pc people to lose entitlement to free health services under SSP if recommendations are enforced

Dr Sania, who is also chairperson of BISP, said the names of ineligible beneficiaries were removed from the system and recommendations were made to health ministry to strike off their names from Sehat Sahulat Programme. “This will pave the way for poor and deserving population to seek free treatment at the government’s expenses,” she added.

She said that the funds allocated by the government were meant to facilitate the poor. “Therefore, we recommend that the names of rich people should be removed and more poverty-stricken ones should be included,” she added.

Officials said that KP had largest number of BISP’s beneficiaries, who had been receiving cash payments from the government. After launch of Sehat Sahulat Programme, there was no data to select the people, therefore, the province got the data of poor people from BISP and those people were issued Sehat Insaf Cards.

The PTI government in its first tenure launched free treatment programme in five districts of the province. The scheme was subsequently extended to the population of the entire province using the BISP’s survey conducted in 2010-11.

Currently, the programme covers 69 per cent of the population and SICs have been issued to 2.4million families. So far, Rs5 billion has been spent on the treatment of 200,000 patients at the 80 designated private and public sector’s hospitals.

Officials at the health department said that a meeting would be held on Tuesday to discuss extension of SSP to the entire province. “May be, the recommendations regarding the stoppage of free health services to ineligible people will be discussed,” they added.

They said that if the recommendations were implemented, about 20 per cent in KP would lose entitlement to free health services under SSP.

The SSP was also launched in February this year and according to the plan, more than 80 million people (10.5 million households below the poverty line) will receive free medical treatment worth Rs720,000 in private or state-owned hospitals. “Around 15 million people will receive the cards over the next two years,” said an official.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2019