PTI govt plans to roll out health insurance programme in Karachi

Sehat Sahulat Card. Photo:File
Sehat Sahulat Card. Photo:File
  • Federal government is planning issuing sehat cards to families all across Karachi.
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, Islamabad, Punjab, and Gilgit-Baltistan are now part of Sehat Sahulat Programme.
  • Approximately 30-40% of families in Karachi already have sehat cards, says NHS official.

KARACHI: The federal government is planning issuing sehat cards to families all across Karachi, if the Sindh government continues to resist joining the National Health Insurance Scheme, which is now in place throughout the country except for Sindh, an NHS official told The News on Friday.

“The Prime Minister’s Office is seriously considering expanding the Sehat Sahulat Program to Karachi if the Sindh government refuses to join the health insurance programme,” a Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination (NHS,R&C) official told this scribe. 

The official said that it would cost only 16 billion rupees per year to provide National Health Cards to all permanent residents of Karachi.

The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, Islamabad, Punjab, and Gilgit-Baltistan are now part of the PTI-led government’s Sehat Sahulat Programme and are benefiting from the health insurance scheme, which ensures that each family receives health services worth up to Rs1 million per year, said the official.

According to the NHS official, who requested anonymity, approximately 30-40% of families in Karachi already have sehat cards as permanent residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, Punjab, and other federating units, while only 60-65% of families pay for health services out of pocket or rely on the Sindh government-run health facilities.

The official noted that a proposal to provide the people of Karachi with the sehat cards is currently before PM Imran Khan, who is expected to ask the Sindh government about participating in the programme. “If they decline, the federal government will launch the health insurance programme in Karachi,” he added.

The official maintained that because the government provides Sehat Sahulat Cards to all citizens, it would constitute discrimination against the people of Sindh if they were denied access to this facility, which benefits millions of people throughout Pakistan. 

He added that permanent residents of Karachi were also approaching and requesting inclusion in the Sehat Sahulat Program.

“People from all walks of life in Karachi have approached the federal government to be included in the revolutionary health scheme alongside residents of other provinces,” said the official, adding that they are constantly attempting to persuade the Sindh government to join the scheme, but if they remain adamant, the federal government will step in to assist the people of Sindh, including Karachi.

In response to a question, the official stated that with 30-40 % of Karachi’s population and residents of Tharparkar having access to sehat cards, it would take only 45-50 billion rupees to provide National Health Cards to the people of Sindh, which is a relatively easy task for the federal government.

He reiterated that approximately 700 hospitals across Pakistan were currently participating in the Sehat Sahulat Program, which he claimed had resulted in a silent health revolution in the country. 

The service of public sector health facilities has begun to improve in KP and other federating units as a healthy competition between public and private hospitals has begun in these areas, he added.

“This programme has also given poor people the option of receiving treatment at private hospitals in a respectable and honourable manner,” he said, adding that they were planning to expand the health programme by 300 facilities.

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