PESHAWAR: Women have availed themselves of free medical care under the government’s Sehat Card Plus programme more than men since its launch in December 2015, according to a health department report.

The report revealed that a total of 1,452,250 patients had so far received cashless healthcare services under the PTI government’s flagship initiative and 53.5 per cent of them (776,392) were women and the rest (675,853) men.

It said 155,251 patients received medical care under the SCP in Peshawar, which had the most hospitals empaneled for the programme, 134,309 in Swat, 128,720 in Mardan, 102,655 in Swabi, 97,199 in Lower Dir, 90,665 in Charsadda, 79,739 in Abbottabad, 68,793 in Mansehra, 65,199 in Nowshera, 53,943 Upper Dir, 52,499 in Buner, 52,192 in Malakand, 47,250 in Haripur, 38,358 in Karak and 38,313 in Shangla.

The report, however, said the number of the SCP beneficiaries in the newly-merged tribal districts was low as the government extended the programme’s coverage to them in June this year after the suspension of their free treatment by the federal government.

Report of health dept says most beneficiaries from Peshawar, Swat, Mardan

It said the programme had so far cost Rs30 billion to the province.

According to the report, Rs11 billion has been spent on 88,435 heart patients, Rs4 billion on 220,467 patients needing general surgery, Rs4 billion on women with gynaecological issues, Rs2 billion on ‘medical’ cases, Rs1.9 billion on people with orthopedic problems, Rs1.6 billion each on urology and oncology patients and Rs1.4 billion each on neurosurgery, throat, dialysis and ophthalmology cases.

Meanwhile, SCP chief executive officer Dr Mohammad Riaz Tanoli told Dawn that the process to register more hospitals in tribal districts for the programme was under way.

He also said empanelment of more hospitals was required in districts with low number of patients registered for the SCP.

“We [government] want to rope in more hospitals at district level for the treatment of people in their native areas,” he said.

Dr Tanoli said there were no restrictions on people to receive treatment in districts other than their native ones, especially in Peshawar, whose hospitals offered services for complicated and chronic health issues.

He said the extension of the programme to the entire population of the province had increased patient inflows, so more hospitals were required to be empanelled.

“Empanelment is a continuous process for which the quality and standard of patient care and infrastructure in the hospitals is inspected, he said.

The SCO chief claimed that there was no compromise on the quality of treatment under the programme.

He said cashless treatment was provided to 9.5 million people in 1,100 hospitals, including 192 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Each family with computerised national identity cards issued in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is eligible to seek treatment in any province under the SCP,” he said.

Dr Tanoli said last month, nine patients from KP underwent free liver transplants in Islamabad’s private hospitals as that service wasn’t available in the province.

He said one liver transplant cost Rs0.52 million.

“Until now, over 30 transplants have been done under the SCP in hospitals located outside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.

The SCP CEO said last month, eight patients got free renal transplants in Peshawar’s private hospitals.

He said around 130 renal transplants had so far been carried out with each of them costing Rs1.4 million.

Dr Tanoli said the programme recently held awareness workshops in several districts in a bidto ensure treatment of more and more patients in public hospitals.

He said currently, private hospitals generated more revenue from the programme compared with the public sector ones.

“Health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra, who is directly monitoring our initiative, wants government hospitals to receive more patients under the SCP and spend their revenues on upgradation of services and grant of incentives to staff members,” he said.

The SCP chief said some districts continued to receive a few patients under the free healthcare programme.

He said government hospitals had showed improvement regarding the SCP during the last few months.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2022

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