Free treatment under SCP continues in KP despite financial crunch

Peshawar  -   Despite payment controversies between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government and the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (SLICP), treatment under the “Sehat Card Plus’ (SCP) programme has continued, free-ofcharge medical and surgical healthcare services were being provided to patients irrespective of their financial position.

“I was dangling between life and death and not sure about my survival when I faced a heart attack while eating my dinner in Kohat. I felt severe pain in my chest and was rushed to Liauqat Memorial Hospital where doctors gave me initial treatment and immediately referred me to Peshawar for further treatment,” said Jamal- ud-Din, a heart patient of Kohat district while narrating his ordeal to APP.

“The situation was serious and I was out of cash due to the market situation and loss of work in a computer shop. When I was on my way to the hospital in semiconscious condition, my prime concern was how my cashstripped family would bear the burden of costly treatment events in a public sector hospital,” he said.

“However, my worries were evaporated when my family member, who was accompanying me to Peshawar informed me about the free healthcare facilities being provided to needy and poor patients under the ‘Sehat Card Plus’ which he termed a milestone achievement to help out patients that are unable to bear financial expenses to treatment.”

The SCP programme was launched by the previous government under a social protection initiative in December 2015, which initially covered free medical, diagnostic, and surgical treatment of about 50 percent population of the province.

“Treatment under SCP continued in KP despite financial crunch and around 9.7 million families benefited from the incentive costing Rs 30 billion in the second phase,” said Dr Riaz Tanoli, Chief Executive Officer, of SCP Program KP while talking to APP.

In the first phase, he said about 2.3 million people availed of free treatment facilities, and Rs6 billion were spent on their medical treatment. The programme caters to around one million needy families and has provided free treatment to approximately 2.5 million patients so far. The annual financial implications of the programme are about Rs33 billion, and the government intermittently disburses Rs2 billion to sustain its operation.

Primarily, the programme was launched in Kohat, Mardan, Malakand and Chitral districts wherein as many as 1.8 million poor households (approximately 150 million people) were entitled to get free medical treatment up to Rs540,000 at designated hospitals of the province.

Later in February 2019, the programme was extended across the country including all districts of Khyber in its second phase with a target to provide free treatment including surgeries and medicines up to Rs1 million to each family of over 80 million people at 1000 designated hospitals.

“The programme initially covered three percent of the population in four districts in 2015 and later extended to 51pc, 70pc and 100 percent population of the province till November 2019 in three different phases respectively,” Dr Tanoli said.

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