ON Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Sehat Insaf Card that will provide health cover of Rs1m to every deserving family in the province. Mr Khan, in line with the spirit of the second anniversary of his rule, may have allowed himself to lavish a few overly generous compliments on the work of his team members, but this was a case that was deserving of his proud appreciation. He summed up the effects of the initiative that has been a defining project of the PTI government, and which has the potential to set in motion a process in the other provinces to provide desperate Pakistanis a much-needed healthcare umbrella. The people of this country need the relief and reassurance that a health insurance scheme is supposed to embody. A successful pilot programme would obviously lead to demands for similar initiatives in the rest of the country. Something that has been done by one of the provinces should not be impossible to recreate in other units of the federation.

Given just how grim the situation is, the follow-up must come fast. What Prime Minister Khan needs to do immediately is to ensure that his message to Punjab and Balochistan is properly acted upon. They need to emulate KP’s pioneering stride as a top priority. If the model proves to be successful and is not politicized, even Sindh — which has, often justifiably, voiced its criticism of federal government policies — may see the worth of it. Meanwhile, in Peshawar and elsewhere in KP, the system must live up to its billing and try and avoid the fate of so many other concepts that were imported with much fanfare but which lost their efficacy after being corrupted during the implementation stage. Insurance is a serious business and requires 100pc compliance once a guarantee is given. Once an individual or a family is assured of health cover, there must be no room for denying it. The government must ensure that everyone has access to quality healthcare.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2020

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