Launching Naya Pakistan Health Card initiative in Lahore, P.M. Khan claims it will help improve healthcare by promoting private investment
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the Naya Pakistan Health Card initiative for residents of Punjab province, announcing that its rollout will commence in January and be completed by the end of March.
The initiative, which was implemented in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa earlier this year, families can avail free medical treatment, up to Rs. 1 million per year, of designated maladies. While it includes treatment and certain tests, medicine is not included.
“This is a landmark, defining moment in the journey of Pakistan becoming a welfare state,” Khan said, adding that Rs. 440 billion had been allocated for the health insurance scheme for the first three years of the program. However, he stressed, the goal was not just to help citizens cope with crushing medical bills, but also establish a viable healthcare system.
“There is a lack of doctors in these areas, but now the private sector will invest in constructing hospitals in the poorest of areas as everyone will be able to [pay for] treatment through health cards,” he said, predicting this would lead to the establishment of private hospitals in areas that currently only had public health facilities.
He stressed that this initiative would especially help the poor, as it would help them secure healthcare for serious illnesses without going into debt. He said he had experienced similar emotions of “helplessness” when his mother had contracted cancer and there had been no dedicated hospital to treat it in Pakistan. “I thought of a health insurance system back then,” he said, noting this would especially benefit daily wage earners and laborers.
Khan also reiterated his government’s plans for the Ehsaas Ration Card scheme, aimed at tackling the impact of inflation on the country’s most impoverished citizens. “Those with incomes less than Rs. 50,000/month will be given the Ehsaas card, which would allow them to get 30 percent discount on wheat flour, ghee and lentils at dedicated stores,” he said, adding this was the government’s plan to help people overcome the impact of global inflation.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar told the ceremony that the Naya Pakistan Health Cards had already been issued in Dera Ghazi Khan and Sahiwal and would now be expanded to the rest of the province.