PESHAWAR: The residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are arriving from abroad to undergo free liver and renal transplants on Sehat Card Plus (SCP) as the health department empanelled 34 more hospitals to cater to load of patients.

“I have been working in Malaysia for the past few years. I returned when I developed health complications because the treatment there was very expensive,” said, Abdul Rehman, 51, a resident of Buner district. He said that he went to a local hospital where he underwent MRI scan, which showed that his liver was damaged.

“So, we contacted the health department to undergo liver transplant on Sehat Card Plus. My son donated me liver due to which I am living normally now,” he said.

He underwent free liver transplant at an Islamabad-based hospital. He had been told in Malaysia that it would cost about Rs9 million, an amount unaffordable for him.

Department empanels 34 more hospitals

Mr Rehman said that his family members told him to come from Malaysia to avail the free transplant facility on SCP.

So far, 37 liver transplants have been conducted on SCP free of cost.

The expenses incurred on single case were Rs5.2 million. The government included liver transplant in cashless treatment programme last year.

The inclusion of liver transplant in the free treatment scheme has benefitted 37 residents of the province so far while 10 others are in the pipelines to get the same treatment on SCP.

Officials said that people were coming from foreign countries because most of them could not bear the charges of transplants. The residents of the province are also benefitting from the free renal transplant services.

Ahmad Ali, a 14-year-old boy, was brought by his parents from United Arab Emirate when he developed kidney problems. His father Aman Khan, working in a Dubai-based private company, said that both kidneys of his son were damaged and he was on dialysis but he rushed him to Peshawar when his friends informed him about SCP.

“Doctors operated on my son three months ago. He is fine now. We all pray for Imran Khan and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for this facility. Health department has been extremely cooperative in facilitating us,” he said.

More than 120 renal transplants have been performed on SCP so far and more than 12 are being prepared for the same treatment, according to officials.

Dr Aamir Rafiq Khattak, SCP director empanelment, told Dawn that they did not have a record of people coming from foreign countries to get free health services but everyone having identity card of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was eligible to avail the facility.

“As per rules, we check the credentials of patients with the record of National Database and Registration Authority and allow their free treatment regardless of their financial position,” he said.

Dr Aamir said that recently they terminated the contracted of 48 hospitals for their failure to provide quality treatment to patients under the free health scheme. He said that they approved 34 new facilities after proper assessment of the panel of experts. He said that the hospitals would be required to apply for empanelment after six months.

“There is no compromise on quality of treatment under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universal Health Coverage Act, 2022. The hospitals must have doctors and infrastructure including emergency, operation theatres, etc to stand eligible for empanelment. There are 1,000 hospitals across the country where people can receive free services. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 203 such health facilities,” he said.

Dr Aamir said that about 9.5 million families of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and newly-merged districts were entitled to free health services. “The government has spent about Rs37 billion on providing free treatment facilities to 1.5 million people. Each family can get treatment up to Rs1 million per year,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2022

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