PESHAWAR: Senior officials at medical teaching institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have welcomed the announcement of PTI’s nominee for the chief minister’s office Ali Amin Khan Gandapur for the restoration of the Sehat Card Plus health insurance scheme after forming the next government in the province.

They insist the announcement promises better health to hundreds of serious patients awaiting free treatment under the programme in the province.

Mr Gandapur told a rally here on Saturday that after election as CM, his first act would be the restoration of SCP in the province.

The health insurance programme launched by the PTI government in 2016 has so far benefitted 2.7 million at the cost of Rs70 billion.

Say hundreds of critical patients awaiting free treatment

It was recently restricted by the current caretaker government to emergency services to the suffering of patients registered for free treatment, especially critical ones.

Officials said the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC), the implementer of the programme, had stopped free care for cancer, emergency and dialysis cases because the government wasn’t clearing its dues.

“The insurer has a total of Rs20 billion outstanding against the government over free services to patients and wants the immediate clearance of Rs6 billion in one go for restoration of full-fledged services on SCP. If the new government pays that to the SLIC, the services would resume,” officials said.

A senior official at one of the MTIs told Dawn that the restriction on the health insurance scheme had not only left patients high and dry but also badly hit hospitals financially.

He said around 400 patients awaited their cardiac surgeries as their treatments weren’t possible without the SCP as a single surgery cost Rs500,000.

The official said the SLIC had to pay Rs2b to the Lady Reading Hospital, Rs1.4b to Peshawar Institute of Cardiology, Rs600m to Hayatabad Medical Complex and Rs500m to the Khyber Teaching Hospital Peshawar for the services already availed by patients with SCP.

He said the hospitals had already stopped free services and could resume only if they were paid one third of their unpaid money.

The official said prior to the arrival of the caretaker government, the SCP covered almost all diseases and surgeries.

He said under the programme, 64 patients had undergone liver transplant, which cost Rs5m but stoppage of free services had deprived at least 20 others awaiting transplants.

Officials at the health department told Dawn that the free healthcare had also enabled 158 patients to undergo kidney transplants but more than 40 with damaged kidneys were waiting to avail themselves of services as expenditure of a single case was Rs1.4m not affordable by the people.

They said currently, public sector hospitals had run out of money and couldn’t afford to provide medicines and other items required for surgeries.

“MTIs are desperate to claim their dues from the SLIC and pay to the doctors, nurses and paramedics for the services they rendered for the SCP. The announcement about Sehat Card Plus is a big step towards free care for the people,” the medical director at MTI told Dawn.

He said the SCP was a unique programme that benefited patients and hospitals alike as the former received free services and the latter earned money.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2024

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