MARDAN: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has launched Sehat Sahulat, a social health protection scheme, in Mardan on Tuesday. A similar initiative was introduced in Peshawar in December 2015.
During a ceremony held in Mardan, Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai distributed Sehat Cards to deserving families at a function which was held in Mardan on Friday. Minister for Education Atif Khan was also present on the occasion. Members of the district administration, elected members of local bodies and journalists also attended the event.
Under the scheme, Sehat Cards will be issued to the deserving families and at least seven members of a family will be able to avail free medical treatment facilities worth Rs25,000 each every year from nominated hospitals.
Speaking on the occasion, Tarakai billed the initiative as a revolutionary step, saying over 0.4 million people of at least 60,000 deserving households in Mardan will benefit from the scheme.
He said initially the scheme is being launched in four selected districts of the province, including Chitral, Malakand, Mardan and Kohat with a cost of Rs1.4 billion. During the next phase, the scheme would be extended to other districts as well.
“Health care is one of the top priorities of the provincial government and the decision to launch a health insurance scheme is an important step towards it,” Shahram added.
He pointed out the scheme would not only provide free health care facilities to the underprivileged sections of society, but would also help reduce poverty in the province.
Highlighting the reforms initiatives undertaken by the government to strengthen the health sector, Tarakai said a package worth Rs3.3 billion had been approved to give special financial incentives to doctors serving in remote districts. It is aimed at ensuring the provision of health care facilities to the people of these areas at their doorstep.
On the occasion, Shahram disclosed that as many as 1,500 nurses, 600 paramedics and district health specialists will be recruited to meet the shortage of medical staff in hospitals. He hoped people will witness a difference in the health sector within next couple of months.
Meanwhile, Atif Khan said the scheme was a practical step towards change, saying it was the duty of any government in power to provide free health care and education facilities to its citizens.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2016.