PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has claimed that the people of the province continue to receive free treatment in the hospitals of Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad under the Sehat Card Plus programme.

The claim comes amid reports about the denial of free healthcare under the government scheme by Islamabad and Punjab hospitals.

The KP health officials told Dawn that there was no halt to free treatment under the Sehat Card Plus programme for the residents of the province anywhere in the country.

They, however, said there were some issues regarding the scheme and the relevant authorities were trying to sort them out.

Officials insist some issues about initiative being sorted out

The officials said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had pioneered the Social Health Protection Initiative (SHPI) under which more than one million people had been given cashless diagnostic and treatment services in hospitals empanelled in all provinces.

They said the Sehat Sahulat Programme was launched by the federal and Punjab governments with the help of the KP health department but they had signed separate agreements with hospitals for it.

The officials said the hospitals empanelled for the scheme in the country totalled 700 and the entertained patients from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Islamabad as the State Life Insurance Corporation implemented the initiative on behalf of the respective governments.

They said there were around 250 hospitals in Punjab with which the SHPI had signed agreements for the provision of free services to the population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The officials said over 50,000 patients from the province had so far received free services in Punjab hospitals, where the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department had hired its own staff to facilitate patients.

They said there were some issues between the SSP and Punjab and Islamabad hospitals due to some issues in contracts with the empanelled hospitals.

Officials said the federal and Punjab governments were trying to resolve their issues but the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa population continued to get free services as usual.

They said some hospitals weren’t getting ‘packages’ according to the agreements, so they were denying free treatment to patients, but the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continued to avail themselves of free healthcare in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan and other cities.

“We have 7.4 million families (entire population) of the province registered for free care under the SHPI. They are entitled to receive up to Rs1 million treatment in any registered hospitals of their choice on the production of their identity cards,” a health official told Dawn.

He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa residents went to Islamabad and Punjab’s health centres for free liver transplantation under the SHPI as the facility wasn’t available in the province.

The official said all seven liver transplants of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s patients under the SHPI had been done in Islamabad and Punjab’s hospitals.

He said hospitals in Sindh province also offered services to the KP residents registered under the Sehat Card Plus scheme.

The official said the people living in tribal districts were also eligible to receive free treatment under the scheme outside the province.

He said the government recently increased the free treatment ‘package’ from Rs700,000 to Rs1 million per family.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2022

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