Effective health cover
Prime Minister Imran Khan launched Sehat Sahulat Programme on Saturday for the people with physical disabilities by giving Insaf Health Card to a teenage girl on wheelchair. It is worth appreciation to provide free of cost healthcare to these special people who may be more vulnerable to diseases as compared with the physically strong ones. The Prime Minister had remained concerned about the health of downtrodden since the when he had not entered the arena of politics. Setting up of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospitals at Lahore and Peshawar, bear testimony to his immense desire and missionary zeal to provide state-of-the art health facilities to the people.
Distribution of Sehat Insaf Card is major step to implement the vision of the Prime Minister for providing universal health coverage to the people. As health is provincial subject, the previous PTI government started the distribution Insaf Health Card in certain selected settled districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. The present provincial government expanded its scope to the merged tribal districts. But at the same utter neglect was shown to the expansion of health infrastructure in the government category -A and Category -B hospitals, planning for the establishment of new hospitals. The Category- A hospitals are teaching hospitals and Category- B are district headquarter hospitals. Likewise, in the metropolitan cities like Peshawar even in two Category-B hospitals health infrastructure was not expanded and were made redundant.
The incumbent PTI government in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa is more indifferent to the much needed improvement and expansion of health infrastructure in government hospitals. Unfortunately, it is a matter of daily observation that large numbers of patients have to stand in long queues from 5 A.M early morning in front of OPD counters to get the required prescription paper for examination and diagnoses of their diseases. People who come in normal working hours cannot get prescription papers from the OPD counters. Big and unmanageable rush of patients compel Insaf Health card holders to seek treatment at private hospitals where the full capacity of their card is robbed off in few visits. A visionary health secretary earnestly wanted the expansion of health infrastructure in existing different categories of hospital and setting up of four new Categories-A hospitals for the metropolis city of Peshawar. Instead of appreciating his vision of expansion in health infrastructure, he was shown the door. The existing three MTI hospitals are bursting with patients and cannot cater to needs of fast increasing number of outdoor and indoor patients.
It is very unfortunate that elected governments have never paid attention to setting up new hospitals and expanding the health infrastructure in the existing ones. The plans of setting up majority of new hospitals had been conceived and put into action by the unelected governments, whereas the governments which assume power with the mandate of the people should have done this noble task of people’s welfare. Ironically, the PTI provincial governments appear to have stepped in the shoes of previous governments of not allocating public funds for the construction of new and fully equipped and staffed hospitals. The objective of universal health cover cannot be achieved with the distribution of millions of Insaf Health Cards alone among the people if expansion of health infrastructure is not given due priority in proportion to percentage of poor and middle class people in the population of the country.