PESHAWAR: The health department will recruit more staffers for the Sehat Card Plus programme to strengthen monitoring and evaluation of hospitals and address complaints lodged by the patients, according to officials.

The programme, started in 2015 by providing free health services to three per cent population in four selected districts, was extended to the entire province in 2020 in a phase-wised manner. Despite shortage of staff, the programme continued to empanel more hospitals in view of the increasing number of patients availing free health services, not only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also in other provinces of the country and Islamabad Capital Territory.

The health department has always been complaining of shortage of staff to deal with workload. On June 3, the provincial assembly passed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universal Health Coverage Act, 2022, in the light of which a Policy Board was constituted to make the initiative more transparent through effective monitoring, surveillance and other measures.

Department wants to strengthen monitoring and evaluation of empanelled hospitals

“The Policy Board comprising senior professionals has approved a summary under which 76 new workers, including doctors and support staff, will be recruited on contract basis,” SCP director empanelment Dr Aamir Rafiq Khattak told Dawn. He said that the new staff had been demanded due to workload because the programme covered 9.5 million population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and newly-merged districts.

“There are a total of 1,100 hospitals, including 192 in our province, where the people possessing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s identity cards are entitled to seek free treatment,” he said.

He said that currently, there were about 20 staffers. “They are overburdened with work and we have requested the health department for more personnel which have been approved,” he said.

Dr Aamir said that the workload increased after extension of the coverage of the programme to all people of the province. “It requires more staff to run the matters smoothly and also look into the performance of the empanelled hospitals and complaints lodged by the patients,” he added.

He said that they would set up a full-fledged monitoring and evaluation department. He added that the proposed department would work round-the-clock to address the problems faced by the people.

So far, Rs36 billion has been spent on free treatment of 1.452 million people, mostly in private health facilities. In addition to new recruitments on contractual basis, the Policy Board has also approved hiring consultancy services on need basis.

“For instance, we would recruit consultants for specific tasks from the market for specific time. Rules for the SCP are also being framed,” he said.

Dr Aamir said that Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra wanted the programme to be more effective and benefit more patients through the initiative being implemented by the State Life Insurance Corporation throughout the country.

“The provincial government has also started the programme in newly-merged districts in June after stoppage of services by the federal government where we want to sign contact with health facilities to be able to facilitate patients in their native areas. Our empanelment criterion is meant to have hospitals, which provide quality and standard free treatment services to the people,” he said.

Dr Aamir said that process was started to empanel some hospitals that were working in newly-merged districts under public-private partnership programme of the health department and provide services to the patients in their ancestral hospitals. “Within the next three months, number of empanelled hospitals would be increased,” he said.

He said that liver and renal transplants continued to take place on SCP. The cost of liver transplant is Rs5.2 million while that of renal transplant is Rs1.4 million.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2022

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