PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to do away with a law on endowment fund for the medical relief and treatment of the poor people, insisting the province’s entire population is availing itself of free healthcare under the Sehat Card Plus initiative.

The fund was established in 2004 under the KP (Medical Relief) Endowment Fund Act to provide free health facilities to the poor and deserving people.

Its initial capital was Rs500 million, which was later enhanced through grants and donations by philanthropists and income from other sources, while the profit from it was used to pay the expenses of the treatment of poor people suffering from certain diseases.

A bill for the repeal of that legislation was submitted to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s Secretariat on Saturday. It said the provincial government had been providing health protection to all permanent resident families of the province through the Sehat Card Plus programme, which guaranteed equitable access to a predefined package of healthcare services.

Says residents already covered by Sehat Card Plus initiative

“In the presence of the universal health coverage provided under Sehat Card Plus, a parallel mechanism of providing specific treatments at specific hospitals under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Medical Relief Act, 2004, has become redundant and required to be repealed accordingly,” it read.

The bill said when it would be passed by the assembly and promulgated after the fulfilment of the required formalities, the endowment fund would stand transferred to the provincial consolidated fund immediately and the finance department would take all necessary steps for closure of any bank accounts relating to relating to it as per law. It added that the health department would be responsible to settle audit objections related to the fund.

Under the KP (Medical Relief) Endowment Fund Act, 2004, the profits accruing on the Fund have been utilised for providing medical relief to poor people suffering from or requiring open heart surgery, angioplasty, placement of pace maker, cancer, advance renal failure, dialysis, hepatitis-C, thalaessemia and burns, at the Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital, Hayatabad Medical Complex and Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine in Peshawar and District Headquarters Hospital, Dera Ismail Khan, Saidu Group of Hospital, Swat, Ayub Teaching Hospital, Abbottabad, and Mardan Medical Complex.

Officials in the health department told Dawn that the endowment fund in question was meant to facilitate cashless treatment of only poor and zakat deserving people in certain hospitals unlike the Sehat Card Plus programme, which covered all 7.79 million families of the province.

“There is no need to maintain the Medical Relief Endowment Fundas it is a waste of public money in the presence of the Sehat Card Plus, which ensures the provision of free health services to all families regardless of their financial status. Under that fund, poor patients had free services in only eight hospitals but free treatment under the Sehat Card Plus initiative is available to all population in over 200 empanelled hospitals,” a health official told Dawn.

He said the government had already spent Rs25bn on the treatment of 1.1m patients since the launch of the Sehat Card Plus.

The official said every family of the province was entitled to get treatment up to Rs1 million annually in any of the designated hospitals both government and private.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022

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