Free treatment scheme to be extended to entire country: PM

Published April 22, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that free health insurance scheme for the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will set competition among the government and private hospitals. — DawnNewsTV screengrab/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that free health insurance scheme for the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will set competition among the government and private hospitals. — DawnNewsTV screengrab/File

PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that free health insurance scheme for the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will set competition among the government and private hospitals and as a result patients will get quality healthcare services in city as well as in district hospitals.

“We are going to extend the free health coverage to all the provinces, except Sindh where our party is not in government. However, public pressure will mount on Sindh government to launch the scheme. We have started it in Tharparkar district of Sindh so far,” the prime minister told the participants of a function held on Wednesday to inaugurate a new block at Khyber Teaching Hospital.

He said that the free insurance programme would help in upgradation of services at all levels because it would encourage private hospitals to upgrade services and receive more patients. It would create a competitive environment, he added.

Imran Khan says the programme will create healthy competition between public and private hospitals

The prime minister said that the health card would also pave the way for a system of reward and punishment as the hospitals with less patients would try to find reasons and would award punishment to the negligent staff whereas good performers would be rewarded.

“So, the ultimate beneficiaries will remain the public as well as the employees of the hospitals,” said Mr Khan. He said that private sector hospitals would be developed with the amount that they would earn from free health programme and the facilities would become better with the passage of time.

He said that the government did not have enough money to build new hospitals as bulk of the amount collected in taxes went to debt servicing and the remaining amount was too little to construct new facilities.

“Doctors are not willing to be posted outside cities due to lack of facilities there, therefore, hospitals at the district level couldn’t be developed to a desired level. Subsequently, the patients visit the city’s hospitals where most services are concentrated,” said the prime minister.

However, he said, extension of Sehat Sahulat Programme to the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would lead to improvement of health facilities at the district level and patients would receive better care there.

It would reduce load on the city’s hospitals and patients would develop confidence in the local hospitals where they would get better services due to the healthy insurance provided by the government, he said.

“I appreciate Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and his team for universal health insurance programme under which each family is entitled to getting Rs1 million free treatment services,” said the prime minister.

He said that the system was extended to parts of Punjab, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. Very soon, it would be in place in the entire country, he added.

By end of the current year, all families of Punjab would start receiving free health services, he said.

The prime minister also praised the administration of Khyber Teaching Hospital for building such a nice block. He said that one didn’t believe that it was a public sector hospital because of the standard of its construction.

He said that according to the latest report by Joint International Commission, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre Lahore was among the 50 best hospitals in the world. It was a matter of pride, he added.

Flanked by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Faisal Sultan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman and Health Minister Taimur Salim Jhagra, the prime minister also visited Paraplegic Centre Hayatabad where he met patients and asked the health department to further improve the facilities to help the people affected by paralysis.

“We need to focus on health and welfare of the people, who have suffered injuries. The centre is playing vital role in provision of free treatment to the people,” he said.

The prime minister said that it was top priority of his government to provide free of cost treatment services to people because often they got poor when they sold their belongings to meet expenses of their treatment.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2021

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