Sehat Card facilities 'resume' after months-long suspension

Sheeba Haider
A photo illustration shows a general practitioner holding a stethoscope in a doctors office. — Reuters/File
A photo illustration shows a general practitioner holding a stethoscope in a doctor's office. — Reuters/File

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department has said that the provision of medical facilities under the Sehat Card has resumed from today (Tuesday) after a suspension of around a year due to financial constraints.

“The facility was suspended in May last year due to unavailability of funds. During the caretaker government’s tenure, the facility faced suspension more than six times,” the health department added, as a new elected government took charge earlier this month.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Ali Amin Gandapur has become the chief minister, whose party had originally introduced the Sehat Card in 2016, cementing their vote bank in return.

KP Health Minister Syed Qasim Ali Shah said that the facility has resumed and Rs10 million have been spend on 700 patients so far.

Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, he said that facilities have been restarted under Sehat Card as the party leadership wants “to help those that are unable to bear expenses of medical treatment”.

Regretting suspension of facilities under Sehat Card in the past, Shah said that treatment of about 1,800 ailments are being provided under the scheme.

He said that operations of certain kinds would be done by government hospitals to address overbilling and added that the number of hospitals that were on the Sehat Card panel were reduced from 180 to 118.

The minister added that Sehat Card has been revived despite arrears of Rs18 billion on the government. He said that government would resolve the challenges to continue Sehat Card facility for betterment of people.

Patients, as per The News, were anxiously waiting for restoration of the programme, particularly those advised to them multiple surgeries, as the majority of the patients were unable to pay for their treatment.

The government was required to pay Rs17 billion to the insurance company. The company suspended its operations after the government failed to pay its premium.

The company had stopped paying arrears of the hospitals when the government was not able to clear its dues. The government has made a commitment to pay Rs5 billion a month to the insurance company.

Sehat Card Plus is stated to be one of the major reasons for the success of the PTI in the February 8 general election in KP.