LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the inauguration ceremony of Naya Pakistan Sehat Card here on Monday.—PPI
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the inauguration ceremony of Naya Pakistan Sehat Card here on Monday.—PPI

• Each family allowed to spend Rs1m on healthcare
• Buzdar says 25 hospitals being set up

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the ‘Naya Pakistan Sehat Card’, calling it a defining moment and a big leap towards the creation of a welfare state on the lines of the state of Madina.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of the health card at the Governor House here, the prime minister said it would be handed out to some 30 million families to avail health insurance for 115 million people across Punjab. Each family in the province would be able to spend up to Rs1 million on quality healthcare from designated public and private sector hospitals. “The process of delivering health cards to everyone in Punjab will be completed by March,” he added.

Mr Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government would inject Rs440 billion into this health insurance scheme in three years. “This is not a mere health insurance but a system that will drive the private sector to establish hospitals in the peripheries and far-flung areas to offer quality healthcare,” he said and acknowledged that public hospitals and basic health units were deserted because no doctor was willing to go and serve in far-off areas.

“Since the death of my mother from cancer, I always wanted to establish a system where a financially poor person felt confident in receiving quality healthcare,” Mr Khan said and added that the health card facility would go a long way in boosting the confidence of the under-privileged across Punjab.

The prime minister said prosperity knocked at the doors of a state that inculcated humanity in its population, adding that the state of Madina had risen from abject poverty. However, he said, successive governments and rulers in Pakistan during the past 74 years continued waiting for prosperity and never took a step to create a welfare state.

Talking about his journey to establish Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, he said he started with no money in his hands and was now able to build two hospitals in Lahore and Peshawar while a third was being established in Karachi. He said 75 per cent of the patients were being offered costly cancer treatment for free.

Referring to the coronavirus pandemic and inflation hitting the country, the premier said the opposition continued criticising him for at least three months for not imposing a complete lockdown. “I kept asking them who will feed the venders and daily-wage earners if a lockdown is imposed,” he remarked, adding that the opposition didn’t have an answer.

He said the opposition cited examples of Indian premier Narendra Modi, and demanded lodging of cases against him if a person died of coronavirus. Now, he claimed, Pakistan’s actions during the pandemic were being viewed as examples for the rest of the world and an international magazine had lauded the country for saving people and the economy.

Earlier, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said the Punjab government was establishing 25 new hospitals in the province besides nine others under the social welfare department.

Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said the provincial government had already delivered health cards to 5.2 million families living below poverty line. Later, she said, the cards were handed over to 3.3 million families in poorer divisions of Sahiwal and Dera Ghazi Khan.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2021

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