By Our Staff Reporter
Islamabad: 3.2m poor families to benefit from PM’s health insurance scheme. The much-awaited health insurance initiative, titled the “PM’s National Health Programme”, whereby around 1.2 million families will get free healthcare facilities in the first phase, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hours before the last sunset of 2015.
Though the programme has been initially launched for the benefit of the people of Islamabad, earning less than $2 a day, it will later be introduced in all parts of Punjab, Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
However, the saddest aspect of the initiative is that the poor people of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be deprived of the scheme, not because that the centre didn’t like to include them in the scheme, but it was merely due to their governments’ refusal to become part of the federal government programme.
“It is not a matter of politics…, and I wish those (two) provinces (Sindh and KPK) which are not part of the programme also joint the scheme,” Nawaz Sharif said while speaking at the programme’s launching ceremony.
Highlighting salient features of the scheme, prime minister said that poor families earning up to $2 a day will be eligible to avail health facilities worth Rs300,000 annually. “Now the poor will not have to sell their belongings and household items to get treatment and purchase medicines,” he added.
“It is government’s responsibility to provide health facility to poor people and as such “we have no other option but to make this programme a success,” the premier said, adding that stern action will be taken against those who will make an attempt to create hurdles in the way of the implementation of the programme or misused it.
He said each patient suffering from a fatal disease will be provided additional money from Pakistan Baitul Maal if the treatment expenditure exceeded Rs 300,000 in a year. “I want every person in every nook and cranny of the country is provided free medical treatment at the doorstep, but there are so many issues and hindrances and resources constraints”.
At the outset, PM praised the efforts of Minister of State for National Health Service Saira Afzal Tarar and Maryam Nawaz for the programme’s preparation and launching.
Unfolding details of the scheme, Director General of Ministry of Health National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Asad Hafeez said that the programme that covers indoor healthcare has been launched in 23 districts in the first phase but “it’s under consideration to be extended to the entire population in coming years gradually.”
He said that the districts included in the programme are: Islamabad, Narowal, Khanewal, Sargodha, Rahim Yar Khan, Sheikhupura, Quetta, Loralai, Lasbela, Kech, Muzaffarabad, Diamer, Skardu, Mohmand Agency, Khyber Agency.
Besides, four districts each from Sindh and KPK will be added as soon as both the provinces join the programme.
Under the programme health care cards will be issued to the beneficiaries and there will be a panel of both public and private hospitals for providing free medical treatment.
Almost all the major diseases including heart diseases, diabetes, liver and kidney failure, hepatitis & HIV/AIDS, cancer, burn injuries will be covered under the programme.
However, treatment for cosmetic surgery, dental treatment, self-inflicted injuries, alcohol or drug addiction, injuries resulting from war, riots, exposure to nuclear waste are not included in the programme.
Out of the said amount given to a beneficiary per year, Rs50,000 per person will be contributed by the provincial governments, while the federal government will contribute Rs250,000 for the programme annually.
It’s a unique health programme of its kind initiated for the first time in the country’s history that will set an example in the world too, said Saira Afzal Tarar, State Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
The programme will run till 2018 under the PC-I, she added.
Federal Ministers Ishaq Dar, Khurram Dastgir, Minister of State for Interior Baligh-ur-Rehman, Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division Dr Tariq Fazal, Maryam Nawaz Sharif were present at the launching ceremony.