PTI’s promise to provide poor patients with free treatment compromised


The promise

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had formally inaugurated the Social Health Protection Initiative of Sehat Sahulat Program titled “Sehat Insaf Card” Phase 2, an initiative of the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to facilitate poor segment of society with better and easy health facility.

Background

In August last year, Khan had said the program would cover all the districts of KP.

The scheme would cover 50 per cent of the population of KP including 1.8 million households while each household would get free treatment in public and private hospitals up to Rs 5, 40,000.

Khan had said KP would be made a model province of Pakistan and the Sehat Insaf Card would provide free treatment to the poor people.

He noted the provincial government took all measures to improve the life standards of the poor people. For the first time in the history of KP, he had said hospitals were made autonomous and now they would make their own decisions to improve the quality of health service in hospitals without any interference.

Tracking

Truth Tracker approached Dr. Riaz Tanoli, Director of the Health Protection Initiative, who offered minute details into the program by saying that inauguration ceremony of the program was held on August 31, 2016 by Khan himself.

The total cost of the program, he recalled was Rs. 5.4 billion with two years’ timeframe. A total of 1.8 million families would benefit and their registration process is underway, he added.

The registration of families to benefit from the program include Peshawar division, Mardan division, Hazara division and Kohat division, and the process is almost entered its final stages.

While enrollment of families will start in February this year in rests of the areas such as Bannu division, D. I. Khan division and Malakand division, which will complete by April this year.

Private hospitals, he said in most of the areas are on the program panel where families are getting benefit, having their Sehat Insaf Cards.

“Obviously, we have a very good feedback of better health facilities from people having Sehat Insaf Cards. But yes, maybe, there are some deficiency and we’re working to remove those hurdles to ensure provision of better health facilities to all,” Riaz noted.

He said all the provincial hospitals would be brought on the program’s panel within the next two months and the target people would get their cards.

“We are working on a draft law for this program, which will be sent to the provincial assembly to give it legal cover so that future governments keep it on,” he added.

When contacted for comments, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), said of Sehat Insaf Card: “The PTI has virtually destroyed this program and Sehat Cards are distributed on preferences basis to undeserved people.”

Look, he said those people who are millionaire or even billionaire have got Sehat Insaf Cards while poor people who could not afford medicines are vying for treatment without getting any card.

The same people, he said are being targeted to get the Sehat Insaf Cards who are cardholders of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP).

Sehat Ka Insaf? (Justice of health) What is Sehat Ka Insaf? interjected Sayed Jaffar Shah, MPA from Awami National Party (ANP). “I’ll invite you on my own expenses to see for yourself the state of private and government-run hospitals even in Peshawar,” he added.

The poor patients, he said continue to suffer and they have no access to free medicines in government-run hospitals, he remarked. “I really don’t see any change and the situations are going toward worst,” Shah added.

Muhammad Ali Shah Bacha, another MPA from Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), said that Sehat Ka Insaf Cards are being distributed on favoritism basis. It is a good initiative, which should be appreciated but the PTI-led government should have conducted fresh survey to identify deserving and poor people to avail the facility.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain Shah, an ANP stalwart and former provincial information minister, said of PTI’s Sehat Ka Insaf Cards that that program is a replica from foreign countries, which is a good step if it is implemented in letter and spirit.

“The tragic aspect of the program is that the PTI is using it as a political bribery. Come and see how patients are treated in KP hospitals,” he observed.

He wondered that the province is under acute financial crisis and how the PTI would manage to keep the Sehat Card program forward.

Independent Viewpoint

Aqeel Yousufzai, a Peshawar independent analyst and senior journalist, recalled the PTI chief Imran Khan’s election campaign was based to improve mainly three areas such as local governance system, education and health.

But unfortunately, he said Khan has no team to work in tandem because it has now been four years of PTI rule but provincial government performed badly to deliver in a single sector.

The problem with PTI, Yousufzai said is that the party is making announcements sans any implementations.

He said the provincial government has lagged far behind to improve the two sectors such as health and education, which are of paramount importance.

“Come and see the condition of Peshawar hospitals, which is a metropolitan city then you can judge the state of health centers in far-flung regions such as Bannu and Swat,” he noted.

Ruling

In the light of comments and views of director of the program, opposition lawmakers and an independent analyst, Truth Tracker finds that the PTI has dragged its heels, compromising its promise to ensure provision of better health facilities to poor people of the province.

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