Pakistan’s prime minister hopes the initiative will encourage other provinces to adopt similar health insurance policies
Under the Sehat Sahulat Program, every family in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province will be able to avail medical treatment costing up to Rs. 1 million per year in the form of government-issued health insurance, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday.
Addressing the launch ceremony of the health program, the prime minister congratulated the provincial government for providing the service to its residents. “The major reason for people living below the poverty line is illness,” he claimed, adding that a single person’s illness could bankrupt an entire family.
According to the prime minister, the federal government is hoping to replicate the Sehat Sahulat Program in Punjab, which is also ruled by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He hoped that its success would also pressure Sindh and Balochistan to introduce health insurance for their residents.
“People in Sindh [ruled by the opposition PPP] will also demand that they get health insurance,” he said, claiming that providing citizens with the option to go to any health facility would also improve the performance of private hospitals, as the best ones would receive the most visitors.
This scheme would also, said Khan, ensure that modern facilities are within the reach of Pakistan’s rural populations. “[The government] should ensure that everyone has a health card so a database can be formed… that can monitor health expenditures,” he added.
Ahead of the ceremony, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had now become the first province to provide health insurance to each family residing within it. Under it, beneficiaries would be able to avail medical treatment of up to Rs. 1 million at all government and private-run hospitals. Sindh currently offers free treatment at government-run hospitals, but the PTI claims that granting the choice to seek out your preferred hospital would be of greater benefit to the public.
The Sehat Sahulat Program has been initiated in phases. In the first phase, around 40 percent of families were provided the health insurance facility. After seeing its success, the prime minister directed provincial authorities to expand it across the province for maximum benefit of the impoverished.