PESHAWAR: More women patients, as compared to men, have benefitted from Social Health Protection Initiative by getting cashless treatment since the launch of the programme in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

So far, 819,896 patients have received free treatment under the programme. They included 433,863 (52.9pc) women and 386,033 (47.1pc) men, according to document.

The programme, launched in 2015 on pilot basis in collaboration with German bank KfW covering a small portion of population in four districts, was extended to the entire province in November 2020 in a phase-wised manner. It now covers all the 7.79 million families of the province.

Peshawar remains atop the list of beneficiaries with 89,494 people, including 44,827 women and 44,667 men patients. The provincial capital has 785,036, the highest number of families registered under the programme in the province. Peshawar has also 27, the highest number of hospitals empanelled for SHPI. The empanelled health facilities include tertiary care public and private hospitals.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has currently 161 hospitals to provide free health services to people on Sehat Card Plus.

Officials say 200 more hospitals want to be empanelled for the scheme

Swat, the native district of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, has the second largest number of patients treated under the programme. A total of patients 75,173 including 42,959 women and 32,214 men in Swat have so far received free treatment under the programme. The district has 15 empanelled hospitals to provide free health services to people under the programme.

Mardan, the second populous district of the province after Peshawar, has 13 hospitals designated for free treatment of patients. A total of 70,640 patients including 39,602 women and 31,038 men in the district have so far received free treatment under the programme.

In most of the districts, women patients have undergone free treatment for different diseases including deliveries, surgeries, ENT and Eye etc. The women, visiting the hospitals for maternal problems, not only receive free treatment but are also given money by the government for transportation.

Lower Dir is ranked fourth with regard to the number of patients treated under the programme where 61,205 people received health coverage. They include 34,267 women and 26,938 men.

In Swabi, 58,298 patients were given diagnostic and treatment services under the programme. The recipients of free of charge services include 29,957 female and 28,841 male.

Hospitals in Charsadda received 51,688 patients for free treatment including 27,105 women and 24,583 men.

According to the documents, so far more than Rs23 billion has been spent on free treatment of the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not only in local hospitals but also in health facilities in Punjab, Islamabad and Sindh.

The health services provided to patients free of cost in the issues related to gynea, general surgery, medical cases, ophthalmology, cardiology, orthopaedic, throat, urology and oncology.

Experts said that there was no immediate study to show the number of women, who survived mortality or complications due to childbirth issues. Many surveys conducted in the past showed that one of the major causes of complication in delivery cases was late arrival of pregnant women to the hospitals due to lack of money to hire transport and pay the cost of surgeries and medicines etc.

The statistics show that the programme might have saved many women from delivery-related complications because of free services being offered to them in each district.

Health officials said that they empanelled 28 more hospitals keeping in view patients’ load and 200 more applications were received to select more health facilities.

“Following extension of the programme to the whole province, we are receiving about 15,000 patients per week even during the month of Ramazan. Women patients continue to outnumber men. People of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can get free health services in any of the empanelled hospitals regardless of their financial status,” they said.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2022

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