PESHAWAR: The health department is empanelling more hospitals on urgent basis to cater to the needs of patients seeking free treatment under Social Health Protection Initiative.

Officials said that more than 2,500 patients were admitted to hospitals per day under the free treatment programme.

“We are going to empanel more hospitals as the number of patients has been increasing continuously which is unusual in the month of Ramazan. Usually few people visit hospitals in Ramazan. During last week, 18,397 patients have been hospitalised for free medication,” Dr Mohammad Riaz Tanoli, the chief executive officer of Social Health Protection Initiative (SHPI), told Dawn.

He said that government had recently selected 28 more health facilities in view of increase in the number patients after the programme was extended to the entire province in November 2020.

Officials say 2,500 patients hospitalised daily under the programme

Presently, there are 181 designated hospitals for cashless treatment of people in the province in addition to more than 500 health facilities empanelled across the country to provide services to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“We have received 200 applications from hospitals wanting to be empanelled under SHPI in different districts of the province. Soon there will be an assessment to select those fulfilling the criteria. There is a prescribed formula for selection of new health facilities and the outlets getting 40pc marks during assessment will qualify for empanelment,” said Dr Riaz.

He said that State Life Insurance Corporation, which was implementing the programme on behalf of the provincial government, constituted three teams to carry out inspections of the new hospitals and select those meeting the criteria. “Also, we are terminating agreements with the hospitals for sub-standard treatment or other violations,” he added.

The healthcare facilities, both public and private, have been working to upgrade their services and be able to get empanelled and earn money from the government.

The government has allocated Rs22 billion for the current year to provide health coverage to all the 7.4 million families in the province.

Dr Riaz said that so far 46,551 patients were treated in tertiary hospitals, 40,149 for gynea problems, 34,031 for general surgery, 30,651 for medical issues, 14,911 for eye problems, 14,635 for cardiology issues, 14,208 for orthopaedic, 9,855 for ear, nose and throat problems, 8,770 for urology and 8,698 for oncology issues.

“These are the first 10 treatments, received by the patients under the programme. Besides these, we have facilitated free kidney transplants, liver transplants, mother and child health services, dialysis, heart procedures and free medication for other illnesses,” he said. He added that on average, 2,500 patients were being admitted on Sehat Card Plus and they received total free services.

Dr Riaz said that each family was entitled to get Rs1 million in lieu of treatment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Sindh province. SSP was launched in collaboration with KfW, a German bank, in four districts in 2015 covering three per cent population. It was extended to 51 per cent population of the province in 2016, to 69 per cent in 2017 and to the entire province in 2020.

He said that the programme had benefitted more than one million patients by spending Rs23 billion so far. He said that Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra was chairman of SHPI steering committee, who directly supervised the programme.

He said that it was planned to include OPD services in the programme on pilot basis in four districts with the assistance of Germany. He said that currently the programme covered patients requiring hospitalisation.

He added that all residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were eligible to get free health services under the programme regardless of their financial status.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2022

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