Health plan to be implemented in phases, says PM | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Health plan to be implemented in phases, says PM

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for effective execution and monitoring of the PM’s National Health Programme being launched next month to provide free treatment to the poor.

Presiding over a meeting held here on Thursday to finalise the arrangements for the programme, he said it should be implemented in phases to filter out any deficiencies and an awareness campaign should be launched about the diseases to be covered under the initiative. He said curing the ailing people who could not afford the treatment was crucial for eliminating poverty.

In the first phase of the programme, which has been declared a priority by the World Health Organisation, three million families will get health insurance for secondary and tertiary care.

The meeting was attended by National Health Services (NHS) Minister Saira Afzal Tarar, Maryam Nawaz Sharif and other stakeholders.

Talking to Dawn, NHS Director General Dr Asad Hafeez said most of the countries in the region, including Afghanistan, had started health insurance programmes.

“Healthcare expenses for the people are increasing and the only solution is to do ‘risk pooling’ and provide treatment to those who cannot afford it,” he said.

“Almost 55 per cent of the people in the country earn less than $2 per day. So it has been decided that the 55pc of the population will be insured. Data of the Benazir Income Support Programme will be used in this regard,” he said.

“In the first phase starting on Jan 1, as many as 3m people in 23 districts of Punjab, Balochistan, Fata and AJK will be included along with Islamabad. It will start from Islamabad, followed by Muzaffarabad a week later and then Quetta, Rahimyar Khan and other cities,” he said.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have not shown interest in the insurance programme, but the government has allocated funds for them and they can join anytime.

“The federal government has offered to allocate double the amount to be contributed by the provinces in this regard,” he said.

Dr Hafeez said that medical insurance usually cost Rs25,000 per year but the government would have to pay Rs1,300 each family.

“A family will get Rs50,000 secondary care treatment which begins as soon as a patient is hospitalised. It includes all kinds of diseases, including maternity. According to our estimates, members of each family get admitted two or three times and around Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 are spent each time,” he said.

“Moreover, we have negotiated the charges, for example hospitals will charge only Rs12,500 for the delivery of a child. Each family can get treatment of Rs250,000 under the category of priority diseases,” he said.

“Cancer, accident, burn injuries, diabetic complications, heart bypass and infection, which are becoming reasons of poverty increasing, will be insured under the priority disease category. So each family can get treatment of Rs300,000 per year and that amount can be doubled in three to five per cent cases.”

Replying to a question, he said special cards would be issued to families for the insurance and they would be activated as soon as they were issued.

“Patients will also get fare in case of shifting from one hospital to another.”

The official said the insurance company — the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) — would also be insured by some other firm to ensure that it did not go bankrupt.

“In case of profit, the SLIC will return 95pc of it to the government or it would be adjusted in the next year’s premium,” he said.

NHS Secretary Ayub Sheikh said: “Because of this scheme, people will be able to get treatment with respect and honour.”