PESHAWAR: More than 180,000 residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have availed free treatment services in hospitals in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Islamabad on Sehat Card Plus, according to documents.

Since launch of the free health initiative in 2016, a total of 2.715 million people have undergone free treatment and provincial government has spent Rs81 billion for the purpose. Among them, 181,819 patients received medical services in different hospitals in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Islamabad at a cost of Rs6.741 billion.

These patients are residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but they live in other cities in connection with their jobs.

Under the programme, 10.2 million families comprising 33.2 million persons of the province are entitled to seek cashless treatment anywhere in the country, according to offi cials. A family is allowed to get free treatment services up to Rs1 million annually.

Provincial govt has spent Rs81 billion on the programme

There are more than 700 empanelled hospitals where the people possessing the national identity card of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can seek free treatment services. Of the empanelled hospitals, 118 are located in the province and the rest are in other provinces and Islamabad.

Offi cials said that at the start of the programme, patients received services only inside the province but the initiative became popular and the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa working in other parts of the country started coming back to the province to avail free health services.

To facilities the people in their cities of work, the provincial government empanelled hospitals in other provinces, they said.

Most of those getting free treatment outside the province permanently lived in other provinces but were eligible as they were residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC), the executor of Sehat Card Plus (SCP) programme, has been affi liating patients throughout Pakistan. The insurer has been listing hospitals in those areas wherever they are needed.

Officials said that empanelment of hospitals outside the province was helping patients in two ways because they got free treatment services in the cities of work and the patients and their families did not require coming to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which saved their money and time.

Also, patients from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been seeking free medical services outside the province that aren’t available in local hospitals.

Officials said that 64 people had undergone liver transplants in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore as the facility was not available in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They said that cost of a single procedure was Rs5 million.

They added many patients underwent renal transplants outside the province.

They said that the expenses incurred on one case were Rs1.4 million. Of the total of 159 renal transplants conducted so far, 50 have been performed by surgeons in other cities, mainly in Islamabad.

Officials said that 54 per cent of the overall benefi ciaries of the programme were women and the average cost of per patient was Rs25, 800 but most amount was consumed on cardiology patients, followed by general surgery, gynaecology, medical, neurosurgery, oncology, orthopaedic and urology etc.

They said that government announced Rs37 billion for SCP, which included Rs28 billion for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Rs9 billion for the residents of merged districts.

At least 10 patients came from abroad to their native districts for free treatment, especially liver and renal transplants because both the procedures were highly expensive in other countries and they couldn’t afford, they said.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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