Free treatment to be extended to entire KP in Oct

Published August 6, 2020
All the 6.617 million residents of Swat, Buner, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Shangla, Malakand, Chitral Lower, Chitral Upper and Bajaur districts of Malakand division will start receiving free health services. — Creative Commons/File
All the 6.617 million residents of Swat, Buner, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Shangla, Malakand, Chitral Lower, Chitral Upper and Bajaur districts of Malakand division will start receiving free health services. — Creative Commons/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is set to extend Sehat Sahulat Programme of free treatment services to the entire population of the province in a phase-wised manner from October.

The government had planned to extend the programme from July 1, 2020, but owing to non-appointment of State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) chairman the extension plan was delayed. The chairman of SLIC has the authority under the law to sign such agreements.

Now, the SLIC chairman has been appointed and the agreement is likely to be inked on August 13.

All the 6.617 million residents of Swat, Buner, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Shangla, Malakand, Chitral Lower, Chitral Upper and Bajaur districts of Malakand division will start receiving free health services regardless of their financial status from October.

Agreement with insurance firm is likely to be inked on Aug 13

It will be followed by Hazara division in November, Mardan and Peshawar in December and Kohat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan in January when the whole population of the province will receive free medical services.

Each family would get free treatment up to Rs1 million per year at both the public and private hospitals designated by SSP. SLIC, which has been selected after a competitive bidding process, will be paid Rs2,849 per family annually.

SSP director Dr Mohammad Riaz Tanoli said that the estimated annual cost of the programme was Rs18 billion for which the government already allocated Rs10 billion. The beneficiaries of the programme would also get Rs1,000 maternity allowance, Rs2,000 tertiary care transportation charges and Rs10,000 funeral compensation in case of death, he added.

The first phase of the programme was launched in 2015 that covered three per cent of the population (100,000 families in four districts) of the province.

The programme was extended to 51 per cent of the population (1,791,930 people in all districts) in the second phase in 2016. The third phase of the programme was started in 2017, covering 64 per cent of the population (3,200,000 families).

So far, more than Rs10 billion has been spent on free treatment of 250,000 people.

Dr Riaz said that SLIC, which was implementing the SSP on behalf of provincial government, would recruit staff for creating awareness among the people about the initiative to benefit the patients. The programme is meant only for the patients requiring hospitalisation.

He said that an agreement with Nadra was being signed to ensure proper data of the people.

The programme covers all secondary care and tertiary care diseases such as accident and emergency, diabetes, kidney ailments, hepatitis B and C, all type of cancers and heart and vascular diseases.

Dr Riaz said that they were making available round-the-clock services for complaint management through a toll free number to ensure transparency in execution of the programme. He added that people could lodge complaint about any problem they had in hospitals.

He said that in the past the beneficiaries of the programme were issued Sehat Insaf Cards that were shown at the hospitals for receiving free diagnostic and treatment services but after extension of SSP to the entire population of the province, the national identity cards would be used.

D Riaz said that more staff was being hired by SSP in view of the workload to cover the whole population of the province. He added that residents of tribal districts were covered by the federal government and they were getting free services at the empaneled hospitals.

Officials at the health secretariat told Dawn that it was flagship programme of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government that was being replicated in Punjab, Balochistan, parts of Sindh provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

They said that most of the beneficiaries of the programme were people with heart ailments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who could not afford expensive treatment.

“The programme ensures totally cashless treatment and people wouldn’t incur out-of-pocket expenses,” said the officials.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2020

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