KARACHI - Assuring that Qaumi Sehat Card Program would not be scrapped by the coalition government, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said services being provided to people under Qaumi Sehat Card Program would continue despite issues with the scheme, and claimed the Sindh government was also considering to launch its own health insurance scheme for the people living below the poverty line.
“Rumours are being spread that we are going to scrap the Sehat Card Scheme. This is not true and no such decision has been made. We don’t believe taking actions on basis of political differences. Recently I issued a supplementary grant for the program despite the fact that this scheme is full of flaws”, Abdul Qadir Patel told newsmen at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Saturday.
Pointing out at flaws in the Qaumi Sehat Card Scheme, he maintained that every person has been given the health card irrespective of his or her social status, adding that even rich people who could afford medical treatment at their own were enjoying free treatment facilities, which could over burden on the health system but added that despite issues, they have decided to continue it keeping in view the sufferings of poor people.
Commenting on World Health Organization’s recent report in which it said that several countries including Pakistan Covid-19 underreported deaths, the health minister categorically denied that Pakistan underreported the Covid-19 deaths, saying there could be 5000 to 6000 more deaths during the pandemic in Pakistan but it could never be around 260,000, the figure quoted by the WHO experts. “It is very easy for me to blame the previous government that they hid the actual deaths but I’m not going to do that. There were around 31,000 deaths due to Covid-19 and this figure is very close to be accurate. We have an excellent system to count the mortalities as we even checked the record of graveyards. “
Hinting at deregulating the prices of medicines, he said bringing down prices of medicines was a challenge as normally, but added that they were working on an ‘alternate strategy’ to deal with this issue. “We are working on a strategy where there would be no need to fix prices by the government or the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan. By deregulating the prices, an environment of competition would automatically result in lowering the prices of medicines”, he informed. He also claimed that he turned down a summary to increase the prices of a drugs recently, saying he could not overburden the people within a few weeks of assuming his office.
When asked about Sindh government’s objections on Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC), he said there is no representation of Sindh in the PMC and added that this institution is not capable of conducting Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) of around 200,000 students simultaneously. “Actually, the previous government established PMC through an Act of Parliament and in order to remove lacunae, we need to make an amendment in the law. We are discussing this issue with the coalition partners, and once we agreed to an appropriate amendment regarding PMC, we would get the law amended”, he added.
Responding to a query regarding three major Karachi’s hospitals including Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH), Abdul Qadir Patel said they would sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sindh government to let it continue running and manage these institutions. “The previous government kept this issue in limbo and despite planning to take them over, it provided no funds for them. Sindh government is running these facilities excellently and people from entire Pakistan are coming there for treatment and we are not going to interrupt it”, he maintained.
On his becoming federal health minister, Abdul Qadir Patel said although he was not a health expert but he could be a better administrator, adding the National Health Services is full of health experts and specialists to assist him.
Prior to talking to media, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel held a detailed meeting with office-bearers of Karachi Press Club as well as its health and environment committee, listened to their issues and assured his full support in resolving their problems. He also assured that issues facing in the housing scheme of 211 members of KPC would be resolved soon.