ISLAMABAD: In a move apparently aimed at preventing an adverse court order, the government has decided to replace the flag of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) with the national flag on the Sehat Insaf Card. Also, the card has been renamed as ‘Qaumi Sehat Card’.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), Sajid Shah, claimed that the step was taken because Prime Minister Imran Khan was against the use of public money for self-projection.
It is worth mentioning that during the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Mr Khan had criticised the use of pictures of PML-N leaders in government advertisements and also filed a petition in the Supreme Court due to which the then Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, had to deposit around Rs5 million in the national exchequer.
When the PTI came into power, a parliamentary committee objected to the use of PTI flag and the name of the party [Insaf] on the Sehat Insaf Card. Later, a case was filed in the Islamabad High Court, questioning the name and flag of the ruling party on health cards issued by the government.
Official says the service being provided to over 8.4 million families
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of NHS on Thursday, the government has taken a momentous and revolutionary step to change the name and design of the health card.
The new name of the health card will be ‘Qaumi Sehat Card’ with design reflecting Pakistan and its people. This new card will replace all existing health cards after completion of their expiry date starting from districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“Qaumi Sehat Card project is not only one of the largest social health protection initiatives but also a game changer when it comes to access quality health care services without financial constraints. Enrolled beneficiaries of the programme can avail indoor free treatment through Qaumi Sehat Card from any empanelled hospital across Pakistan using facility of inter-district portability,” it states.
The NHS ministry’s spokesperson, while talking to Dawn, said the programme had been providing services to over 8.4 million families, and targeting to achieve 12.5 million families across the country.
“The services which are available include open heart surgeries, insertion of stents, management of cancer, neurosurgical procures, burn management, accident management, dialysis, intensive care management, deliveries, C-section and other medical/surgical procedures. Over one million individuals have visited hospitals up till now and over 300,000 have been treated for various diseases,” he said.
He said that as per the directive of the prime minister, there is a stringent monitoring mechanism which is being maintained through feedback calls from beneficiaries, which showed 97 per cent satisfaction rate for the services being provided by the hospitals on panel.
PPP questions decision to abolish PMDC
Parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Senate Sherry Rehman on Thursday questioned the NHS ministry’s decision to seal the building of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC), formerly known as the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).
“It is shocking how unlimited powers have been given to private dental colleges for fixing fees and for arbitrary admissions. The centralised admission policy now stands abolished,” she said.
“Not to forget, the way PMDC was dissolved is unconstitutional in the first place. It was rejected by a majority vote last year. An ordinance stands annulled immediately after a disapproving resolution is passed by either parliamentary chamber under the rules of business,” she said in a statement.
“In this whole fiasco, Pakistani medical colleges will now lose international certification. Instead of taking control and more responsibility to correct a faulty system, the federal government is doing the exact opposite,” the senator said.
“Thousands of doctors have been waiting for their permanent and provisional certificates since last year. Instead of facilitating them, the federal government seals PMDC,” she regretted.
It is worth mentioning that the PMDC employees have not been dismissed from service; they have been stopped from working.
Senator Rehman, who is PPP vice president, said: “It is indeed unfortunate that efforts are being made to make parliament irrelevant and to run the country through presidential ordinances. A new age of rank nepotism is upon even in a highly specialised field such as healthcare, where compromises must not be made on standards of testing and certification.
“On another level we must at least facilitate the employees of the PMDC instead of leaving them unemployed in a time of high unemployment and extreme inflation.”
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020