On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for providing all citizens of the province with free health care under the Sehat Sahulat Scheme.
In a Monday morning tweet, the premier said that in more than 400 hospitals, both public and private, about 40 million individuals would access free healthcare of up to Rs1m per year, adding that KP was the first province in the world to provide its citizens with universal health coverage.
While addressing a meeting in Dera Ismail Khan, Provincial Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said that when Prime Minister Imran had pitched the concept of providing free healthcare to the entire province, the latter had endorsed him, saying that other provinces would also follow suit if KP took such a measure. CM Mahmood observed that in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, a similar initiative was being launched and the Prime Minister had also given a deadline to the Punjab government.
“Today, big provinces are following a small province. I feel that credit [for this] goes to all of us, to myself, to the cabinet ministers and to you, the people of KP,” said Mahmood.
He said it will devote a budget of Rs18 billion to the programme. The CM said that a package of Rs600,000 per family for the citizens of the former Fata, which will be increased to Rs1m in the next budget, was also declared by the Prime Minister. In order to benefit from free healthcare, he encouraged people who are not enrolled with the National Database & Registry Authority to do so.
The chief minister also announced that, because they are pricey, he has advised provincial health minister Taimur Jhagra to include snake bite and dog bite injections in the healthcare kit.
On Sunday night, as imagined by Imran Khan, the Chief Minister called the move a huge step towards achieving the dream of[a] welfare state on the model of Riasat-i-Madina.
“With tomorrow’s launch of Sehat Card in Southern Districts we’ll become first province to have universal coverage of health insurance for 100 percent population . It’s a big step towards achieving the dream of welfare state on pattern of Riasat-e-Madina as envisioned by Imran Khan,” Mahmood had tweeted.
The initiative to protect all eligible families in the province was initiated by the prime minister in August last year.
At the time, the Prime Minister had also vowed to introduce this facility in the province of Punjab, where the PTI is in power, and said that he would also recommend that the government of Balochistan undertake a similar project in the province.
After access to free healthcare for the inhabitants of the three provinces, he said, the people of Sindh, who are controlled by the PPP, will demand that the provincial government implement a similar scheme.
The public and private hospitals designated under the initiative, which has been initiated in stages, will offer free healthcare to the citizens of the province. Rs2,849 per family annually will be charged to the State Life Insurance Agency, which was chosen after a competitive bidding process.
In 2015, the first phase of the Sehat Sahulat Policy was initiated by the PTI administration, in which three percent of the province’s population (100,000 families in four districts) earned health benefits.
The programme was extended in the second phase in 2016 to 51 percent of the population (1,791,930 individuals in all districts). In 2017, the third stage of the initiative was initiated, representing 64% of the population (3,200,000 families).
In October last year, 6,617 million inhabitants of the Malakand division of Swat, Buner, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Shangla, Malakand, Chitral Lower, Chitral Upper and Bajaur districts began providing free health services irrespective of their financial standing.