Updated Monday Oct 17 2022
Protestors and multiple social media users allege that the health insurance program, introduced by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government in the country, has been shut down by the new government.
The claim is false.
In a video that has garnered thousands of views and retweets on Twitter, a Pakistani protester in London complains that the coalition government, which took office in April, has closed down the health insurance program for citizens in Pakistan.
“[Maryam Nawaz Sharif] has come to London for a small surgery,” says a woman protester in the video, “While she has shut down the Sehat Card for poor people in Pakistan.” Maryam Nawaz Sharif is the vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, which is in power.
The video has so far received over 198,000 views and over 22,000 likes.
Television anchor Imran Riaz Khan, who has nearly four million followers on Twitter, also shared the video.
Contrary to the claims, the national health insurance program, known as the Sehat Card, has not been suspended in any part of Pakistan.
Geo Fact Check reached out to health officials as well as public and private hospitals in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad for confirmation.
The Sehat Card was rolled out by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf first in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then in the rest of Pakistan while they were in power between 2018 and 2022. Even though the PTI government was removed from office, through a vote of no confidence in this year, the incoming government has chosen to continue the health cover.
The health facilitate officer at Karachi’s Dow University Hospital told Geo Fact Check that the Sehat Card was functional. “All patients who visit the hospital for cardiac, orthopedics, oncology, and neurosurgery are treated under the health card program,” she said over the phone.
The health officer at Lahore’s Shaikh Zayed Medical Complex also stated the same. He added that except for the cardiology department, the health card could be used for all other departments and medical procedures.
Geo Fact Check then reached out to the Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar. Mujeeb Alam, the health facilitate officer, confirmed that the card was operative, except for treatments related to oncology.
Amir Aziz, the medical superintendent at the District Headquarter Teaching Hospital Mirpur in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, also said that the health card was actively being used by patients for a range of surgeries.
Raja Alamdar, the spokesperson at the Provincial Headquarter Hospital in Gilgit, told Geo Fact Check that the health card is functional. “For admitted patients the per day limit is Rs3,000,” he explained.
In Islamabad, the health facilitate officer at the Nuclear Medicine Oncology and Radiotherapy Institute, confirmed that the health card was in use.
However, Balochistan was the only province where the health insurance program has yet to be rolled out.
Dr Wasim Baig, an official of Balochistan’s health department, told Geo Fact Check that the health card initiative has not yet started in the province. “It is still in the process,” he added.
There are 1,031 hospitals across Pakistan where the Sehat Card can be used.