KARACHI: Children at the SOS Village in Malir, Karachi are being given healthcare insurance under an initiative by the non-profit organisation, Naya Jeevan (NJ), in collaboration with DuPont Pakistan Operations Private Limited.
The project, financed by DuPont and facilitated by NJ, also provides coverage to the resident mothers at the village and their families.
“The programme will definitely be beneficial. These are expensive times and with our salary it is difficult to manage putting good food on the table and taking care of the medical bills,” said Shagufta Syed, one of the mothers at the village. “It is even better for the children because previously we would use donations to meet their medical costs. Now we can allocate that money towards their education and other programmes.”
According to NJ, approximately 250 children and around 100 adults are being insured under this plan, which covers emergency needs, trauma, in-hospital procedures and diagnostic tests of up to Rs150,000 per person annually. The premium per month averages to Rs150 per child and about Rs200 per adult.
When asked why DuPont chose this particular initiative, Chief Executive Officer Tauqir Ahmed said, “Children are close to everyone’s hearts and DuPont believes in supporting sustainable projects.” Pre-screening in children is “barely ever conducted” and health insurance of this kind could detect any complications a child may suffer early on and treat it well within time, he added.
The present commitment between the corporation and NJ to SOS is for one year but Ahmed said that if all goes smoothly and the project showed promise, the company would continue its support for at least another three years. He hoped their efforts would show other corporations the way in a “new kind of corporate social responsibility.”
Having recently returned to Pakistan after completing his Masters from the Harvard University of Public Health, the medical services manager for NJ, Dr Aftab Iqbal, said that micro health insurance was an emerging idea that was especially beneficial for people in developing countries. Many developing nations pose a serious risk from multiple health issues including polio, tuberculosis and others.
Narrating an incident of a security guard from one of NJ’s other clients who was in a traffic accident, Iqbal said the man didn’t even realise he had severe internal bleeding till a month after the accident. “He required an operation immediately and he also needed some medical attention afterwards. The entire cost came to about Rs135,000 which was covered by the plan.”
NJ was founded by Asher Hasan in 2007. It has persuaded several corporations and helped facilitate providing healthcare insurance to their low-income staff (factory workers, janitorial staff etc) as well the domestic help of employees. Under the plan, clients can visit any of the 47 hospitals in Karachi that are on NJ’s list. Hospitals across the country, including in Sukkur and Hyderabad, are included in the list.
A 24-hour helpline is also available to any candidate who requires urgent medical attention. In case of an emergency, a candidate can visit another hospital and will be reimbursed by NJ on presenting their medical bills.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2011.