PESHAWAR: The number of the people benefitting from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s Sehat Sahulat Programme has increased threefold in Malakand (Zone I) and Hazara (Zone II) divisions since the launch of the free healthcare initiative there in last Nov and Dec, respectively.
The health department extended the programme to Mardan and Peshawar division (Zone III) earlier this month.
According to SSP director Dr Mohammad Riaz Tanoli, the programme is likely to be extended to Zone IV consisting of Bannu, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan divisions next month enabling Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to become the first province to give free health services to its entire population.
He told Dawn that hospital admissions under SSP had almost tripled in Zone I (Malakand division), where the government extended the programme on Nov 1 last year.
Official says Sehat Sahulat Programme likely to cover entire KP next month
“Our programme has started covering the entire population of three zones and will cover the whole province next month,” he said.
Dr Tanoli credited health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra, who spearheads the programme, for the smooth execution of the SSP extension plan.
“In last Nov, we began covering the entire population of Zone I, where hospital admissions have surged a great deal. We facilitated 2,242 patients in five districts of Zone I in last Oct and the number jumped to 5,217 in Nov and 6,637 in Dec following the programme’s extension,” he said.
According to the SSP director, before the extension, the daily hospital admissions in the zone stood at 72.29, which swelled to 173.89 and 215.06 in last Nov and Dec, respectively.
“The situation regarding increase in Zone II patients is highly encouraging. We began covering the entire population of the zone in Dec,” he said.
Dr Tanoli said seven districts of Zone II recorded 930 patients in Nov and the number rose to 2,521 after the programme’s extension in Dec.
He said the daily hospital admissions under SSP in the zone were 31 per day in Nov that jumped to 81.28 in Dec after the coverage of the entire population began.
“In Zone III comprising central districts of the province, where SSP was launched on Jan 1, 2021, we expect a surge in the number of the programme beneficiaries due to public awareness and empaneling of the best hospitals,” he said.
The programme was launched in collaboration with KfW, a German bank, in four districts of the province in 2015 covering three per cent of the population. It was extended to 51 per cent population in 2016 and 69 per cent in 2017.
The programme to extend the programme to the entire population got under way in Zone-I in Nov, Zone II in Dec and Zone III in January, and it will cover Zone IV next month.
“It has been a blessing for patients as a single family receives Rs1m full health coverage. A total of seven million families of the province will benefit from the free healthcare programme in both private and public sector hospitals,” Dr Tanoli said.
He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had allocated Rs18 billion for providing free healthcare to the entire population of the province.
“Before the extension of SSP to all people, the deserving patients used to get healthcare through the Sehat Insaf Card but now, all those having the Computerised National Identity Cards in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are entitled to avail themselves of free health services irrespective of their financial status,” he said.
The SSP director said KP’s model of the initiative had been replicated in Punjab, Balochistan and other areas of the country by the federal government.
“We have so far empaneled 300 hospitals for the programme after comprehensive inspections and the process of selecting more health facilities is an ongoing exercise,” he said.
Dr Tanoli said a mechanism had also been put in place to check the standard of services being provided to the people in designated hospitals.
“We are constantly monitoring the performance of hospitals through a complaint management system to ensure the provision of quality health services to the programme’s beneficiaries,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021