LAHORE, (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday launched the Naya Pakistan Sehat Card scheme providing the annual health insurance cover of Rs 1 million to each family across the Punjab province.
“This is a landmark. This is a defining moment towards our course to make Pakistan a welfare state,” the prime minister said addressing the launching ceremony here.
He said starting from January 2022, the Sehat Card would be distributed across the province within three months allowing the whole of the Punjab population to avail free medical treatment worth Rs 1 million a year at both government and private hospitals.
“This is not health insurance rather a health system. Now private sector will build hospitals even in villages where the basic health units remain vacant as no doctor desires to be posted there. Now private sector will come and poorest of the poor will get free treatment,” the prime minister remarked.
He said the difficulties faced by his family for treatment of her cancer patient mother, had prompted him to think of introducing a universal health insurance facility for the whole population so that no one had to sell out belongings for the medical treatment of their dear one.
He said three months of his mother’s illness was an ordeal from Allah for his whole family.
He said the health insurance cover would give the families the confidence to get treated their ailing family members which otherwise was unaffordable for many.
Reiterating his vision of replicating the Madina State model in Pakistan, he said the Holy Prophet established the world’s first welfare state even without having sufficient resources. This proved that bringing humanity to a state was more essential than the resources for establishing a welfare state.
Similarly, he said Pakistan was to become an Islamic welfare state but the leaders so far had been awaiting the resources which were contrary to the precedence of the Madina State.
He apprised the audience that despite the discouraging notions about the feasibility of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, 75% of percent patients were getting free medical treatment. The hospital which was built at a cost of Rs 700 million now spending Rs10 billion for treating the patients.
Similarly, he said despite immense pressure from the opposition for a blanket lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, he opposed the idea just fearing the sufferings of the daily wagers and vendors.
He said unfortunately the elite class never thought of the poor people while suggesting the lockdown. He said owing to the resource and systemic constraints, Pakistan could also not afford to supply food to every household as China did in Wuhan.
The prime minister said now Pakistan was being cited as a country that had effectively maintained a balance between lives and livelihood, just owing to Allah’s blessing and the prayers of the poor people.
He told the gathering that the Punjab government would spend Rs 440 billion in three years for the health insurance facility to the people.
He said no one had ever thought of such a facility as even Punjab’s chief minister and health minister were shocked considering the project’s financial implication.
He said in order to ebb away the pressure of inflation from the people with below Rs 50,000 monthly income, the government had launched the Ehsaas Rashan scheme to provide a 30% subsidy on ghee, flour, and pulses.
Moreover, the government would also provide 6.2 million education scholarships worth Rs 47 billion the deserving students.
Addressing the gathering, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said the provincial government prioritized the health sector by allocating Rs 399 billion budget against Rs 169 billion by the previous government.
He said the scheme had already been launched in Dera Ghazi Khan and Sahiwal but within three months, 115 million people would get the facility across all districts.
He said during the last three years, the Punjab government had built 25 hospitals and nine by the Social Security Department.
Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid said the government had already distributed cards among 5.2 million families out of those 0.7 million families who had availed of the facility.
She said considering the provision of the facility to 30 million families, the private sector is also building more hospitals or expanding the existing ones.
The distribution of the Sehat Card would be started from Lahore followed by Rawalpindi and then other districts.
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