Liver transplants to be covered by govt’s free health initiative

Published May 9, 2021
The health department has planned to include liver transplants in the Sehat Sahulat Programme for patients with hepatic failure. — Dawn/File
The health department has planned to include liver transplants in the Sehat Sahulat Programme for patients with hepatic failure. — Dawn/File

PESHAWAR: The health department has planned to include liver transplants in the Sehat Sahulat Programme for patients with hepatic failure.

A summary for the purpose has already been sent to the chief minister for approval, says director at the Sehat Sahulat Programme, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Mohammad Riaz Tanoli.

“The free liver transplant facility is likely to be formally approved within a month and will be extended to the people suffering from end-stage liver disease at the start of the next financial year,” Dr Tanoli told Dawn.

He said health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra wanted the early execution of the initiative as most patients couldn’t afford liver transplant due to high expenditure.

The official said the surgery cost around Rs5 million for which the programme would get additional Rs1 billion from the government.

Official says facility will be available to patients with hepatic failure in July

He said the patients registered with Sehat Sahulat Programme would avail themselves of free liver transport facility at good hospitals.

According to him, the SSP was launched in collaboration with KfW, a German bank, in four districts in 2015 and thus, covering three per cent population. It was extended to 51 per cent of the population in 2016, 69 per cent in 2017 and the entire province in 2020.

It has so far benefitted 230,000 people at the cost of Rs8 billion.

The programme was extended to the entire province covering 6.7m families in Nov last year.

Dr Tanoli said the public sector State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan had been implementing the free healthcare programme in 500 empaneled hospitals in the country, including 177 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Under it, the government finances healthcare up to Rs1 million annually per family and the amount is extended if the need arises.

“In case of Rs1 million spending, the Sehat Sahulat Programme cards are re-charged. Our [KP’s free healthcare] model has been replicated in Punjab, Balochistan, parts of Sindh, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan. Many donors are approaching the federal government to offer grants,” the SSP director said.

He said following the programme’s coverage across the province, the number of beneficiaries had increased.

“Until now, 160,000 patients have been treated at the cost of Rs4.5 billion. On average, we are admitting 1,400 patients every day. Most of the patients suffer from renal problems and needing dialysis, tonsilitis, appendicitis, heart diseases and other diseases,” he said.

Dr Tanoli said kidney transplants had been begun under the programme.

“We’ve so far done eight transplants with each costing Rs1.4 million,” he said, adding that the government has allocated Rs12 billion for the initiative.

He said the programme presently covered only hospitalised patients and that a programme would be launched within few months in four districts, where OPD patients would receive free services.

The SSP director said they were trying to empanel hospitals with good doctors, infrastructure and required facilities, so the patients could get quality treatment.

“In [next] June and July, we will be carrying out an exercise under which new hospitals will be empaneled and those with poor performance will be removed from our list. We have a complaint registration system under which we get feedback from patients about the services they receive,” he said.

Dr Tanoli said empanelment of hospitals was an ongoing process.

“With the extension of the programme to the entire province, we expect that the number of patients will increase, so we will engage more hospitals, which meet the criteria,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021

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