KP poor to get free healthcare

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Victims of the attack, at the Lady Redding Hospital, Peshawar Ghulam Dastageer
Photo by NewsLens

Peshawar:  The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has initiated a scheme to provide free  health facilities to poor, a promise made by the all main stream political parties before Elections2013. .

The “Social Health Protection Initiative” will cater to the needs of “marginalized people” of four of the 26 districts of the province, Dr Riaz Tanoli, project manager of the new health project told News Lens.

The four districts include Mardan, Malakand, Chitral and Kohat. According to Dr Tanoli, the districts were selected not just to target the poorest of the province but, more importantly, because the target districts must have health infrastructure in place.

The project, spread over five years, will cost Rs 1399.156 million. All major costs – –  amounting to Rs 1233.256 million, 88 per cent of the total cost – will be borne by the government of Germany through the KFW Bank. The remaining 12 per cent – Rs. 165.9 million – will be contributed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, according Dr Tanoli, the project manager.

The Budget 2014-15 document says that the provincial government has allocated 6.17 percent to the health sector in the province.

The Social Health Protection Initiative will start in June 2015. It will be administered by one of the country’s leading insurance companies – State Life Pakistan. The company will provide services through empanelled hospitals in the selected districts, said Dr Tanoli.

He said the government had requested the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) to provide data of poor households which will be shared with the insurance company.The deserving people will be identified through the poverty score card of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP).

BISP is a non-conditional cash transfer program instituted under the previous Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government. It provides financial assistance to low-income families through monthly cash payments.

In 2010-11, the PPP government identified poor households through a poverty scorecard survey based on household demographics, assets, and other measurable characteristics.

According to the website of BISP, the Nationwide Poverty Scorecard Survey, the first of its kind in South Asia, enabled BISP to identify eligible households through the application of a Proxy Means Test (PMT) that determines welfare status of the household on a scale between 0-100.

About the objective of the project, Dr Riaz said: “The government wants to increase access of the targeted population to quality health services and to reduce income loss due to high health expenditure.”

According to International Labour Organization (ILO), social health protection means “a series of public or publicly-organized and mandated private measures against social distress and economic loss caused by the reduction of productivity, stoppage or reduction of earnings or the cost of necessary treatment that can result from ill health.”

An official of the State Life Insurance Company, who wished not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media, said that the premium will be Rs 1700 per family per year. “Each family will be given a card having a specific number and name of the head of the family,” he said.

He said the company would provide coverage up to Rs 25,000 per person per year. Some 497 diseases will be covered in the package including accidents and other injuries, child birth/maternity, common diseases of childhood, common surgeries and medical ailments.

Muhammad Nawab, a resident of Shahbaz Garhi village of Mardan district, expressed delight over the new scheme initiated by the provincial government.

“Presently we have no access to free medicines and surgical equipment at our hospitals which are very expensive,” said Nawab. “If these things are covered in the insurance it would be very big news for those who cannot afford it.”

Shahid Khan, a resident of Malakand district told New Lens: “I have BISP card which entitles me to getting Rs. 1500 a month. The insurance policy of the government would definitely lessen my financial constraints as the state  would share the burden of healthcare expenses.”

Dr Tanoli said that under the scheme only the hospitalization cost of the patients would be covered. He added that approximately .7 million individuals would benefit from the scheme.

A Project Implementation Unit (PIU) will monitor the scheme and ensure quality control, said Dr Tanoli. A monitoring and evaluation firm hired by KFW will assist the PIU.

Dr Abdul Lateef, a public health specialist, appreciated the free healthcare initiative of the government but also expressed apprehensions.

“Theoretically, it is an excellent scheme as it will provide opportunity to poor people to access quality healthcare of which they are deprived,” he said.

However, he said,  the scheme would put further burden on an already overburdened healthcare delivery system of the province.

According to the official website of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department, the province has 21 District Headquarters Hospitals, 19 Tehsil Headquarters Hospital,  86 Rural Health Centers and 784 Basic Health Units. The province has 892 teaching cadre doctors, 355 district hospitals, 3649 medical officers, 213 dental surgeons and 3066 nurses.

Dr Lateed suggested the government should increase the number of health workers and health facilities in the selected districts. The government, he said, should also provide more diagnostic and surgical equipment to these hospitals.

1 COMMENT

  1. State life was given one district under BISP, Faislabad, what disaster they created there, please refer to that and then visualize what they will do in these four districts of KPK. Statelife has no presence at grass root level, they are represented by agents who are only interested in their commissions, whether the scheme runs successfuly or not is their least concern !
    Pakistan has a international award winning HMI program at their disposal….Jubilee General insurance + social mobilizer partnership which is the most successful and sustainable economical scheme available to them…….if any one cares please contact us.

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