New projects promise health insurance, aim to reduce mortality rates

Allocates Rs175 million and Rs500 million for free hepatitis C and cancer treatment, respectively .

Noorwali Shah June 18, 2013
The K-P government means to provide free treatment to 36,000 tuberculosis and 800 cancer patients. PHOTO: FILE


The health sector’s share in the coming fiscal year is Rs29 billion, with most health projects focusing on improving mother and child health.

Making treatment affordable

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial government has planned to initiate a number of projects, one of which would be a health insurance scheme in low-income districts. Families in low-income brackets will be offered insurance cards which will enable them to get free treatment for cancer, AIDS, and kidney and liver diseases. Rs500 million will be sanctioned for the insurance scheme.

‘Insulin for Life’ is another initiative to provide treatment to diabetic patients. Initially, the head of the Hayatabad Medical Complex Endocrinology Department will be the focal person, but eventually the programme will be extended to all district headquarters hospitals, aiming to benefit 15,000 patients.

“Ongoing free treatment for cancer and hepatitis C will continue for which Rs500 million and Rs175 million will be issued, respectively,” reads the document. The K-P government means to provide free treatment to 36,000 tuberculosis and 800 cancer patients.

Facilities at accident and emergency (A&E) departments of Peshawar and other district hospitals will be upgraded and all patients who come to these departments will get free treatment. Rs100 million has been proposed for this.

According to the budget document, qualified management officials would be posted at all tertiary care hospitals.

Maternal and child health

“The government will give Rs200 to those mothers who go for check-ups to qualified doctors after every three months following the birth of their child.” This initiative will at first be launched in 10 districts of K-P to decrease the maternal mortality ratio.

In addition, those mothers who get follow-up health checks during pregnancy from qualified midwives or at a hospital will be granted Rs1,000. The economic plan for 2013-2014 has allocated Rs300 million for this programme, which aims to decrease child mortality rates.

Immunisation has remained a controversial issue in K-P and over the past few years, many children did not receive essential routine vaccinations due to a lack of funds and political will. However, the government claims to have chalked out a new plan.

Under the new strategy, a special programme will be initiated in 10 less-developed districts – those parents whose children receive complete vaccination courses will receive Rs1,000 per child and in total, Rs200 million will be spent on this project.

The broad strokes

The ‘integration of vertical programmes’ – the merger of four projects funded by the centre – will be completed with foreign funding. The annual development programme in health sector for FY 2013-14 will receive Rs8 billion. The PTI, Qaumi Watan Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad’s coalition government also plans to construct the Gajju Khan Medical College in Swabi, provide new instruments to IRNUM, Peshawar, and construct hostels for the Saidu Medical College Swat. The government will continue the training of nurses for the next three years.

A new paediatric ward will be constructed and new instruments will be procured for the surgical ICU at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH). The construction of a paramedics’ hostel at the LRH will also be completed.

The budget goes on to promise the completion of district headquarters hospitals in Kohistan and Hangu, as well as 16 new basic health units. The fiscal plan also includes the completion of A&E units at Kohat, Mardan and DI Khan hospitals. While the document explains some aims in great detail, others are vague at best. The provincial government had consulted the planning and development department to put together a comprehensive plan to improve service delivery in government-run hospitals.

A nutrition and healthcare programme will start across five to eight districts which suffer from the worst health problems.

The government also suggested a survey be carried out to learn about diseases impacting the entire province. It says this exercise might point out where it can start a three-year health project through public-private partnership.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2013.


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