Issuing health card: A revolutionary step
AROUND the world, education and health are social sectors that are the primary responsibility of every state, but Pakistan is a country where the state has been reluctant to fulfil these two responsibilities for the last three decades.
However, the current government has given priority to the health sector along with education and is taking steps to provide equal educational facilities to the distressed people across the country as well as the provision of medical treatment facilities.
In this regard, a health insurance scheme has been launched under the direction of the Prime Minister under which health cards are being issued to the citizens, with the health card, treatment facilities as per the need will be available from the government and approved private hospitals.
A very little budget has been allocated for the health sector in every government. The present government has also allocated Rs 205 billion for health in the budget for the financial year 2021-22, of which an additional Rs 70 billion has been added.
Despite this hefty sum, there were no facilities for poor citizens in government hospitals. On the one hand, patients are given six months to be admitted to government hospitals and on the other hand, they have to undergo all the tests from outside.
In Pakistan, getting treatment for the poor is getting out of hand. In this context, the issuance of health cards by the government is no less than a great blessing for distressed patients.
The issuance of health card across the country by the PTI government is a commendable initiative. The health card in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is also being issued across Punjab after the desired results.
Under this, every resident family of province will be able to get treatment up to Rs 1 million, but this health card facility will be available only to hospitalized patients, while the patient will have to spend a considerable amount of money on tests to diagnose the disease before admission and will have to buy medicines out of his own pocket even after being discharged from the hospital.
If the government is talking about health insurance, it should also cover the expenses before and after the admission of patients and those patients who have to take medicines for life, they should also be provided free medicines, so that all the citizens of Punjab can have access to 100 per cent free medical treatment.
At the same time, it is necessary to ensure transparency in the delivery of health cards. If the government considers the issuance of health cards as a revolutionary step, then a corruption free system will have to be set up for its delivery.
Undoubtedly, the people have high expectations from the government. The government is also trying its best to meet the expectations of the people.
However, if we look at the development and health budget of Punjab, it seems very difficult to spend such a huge amount on health insurance.
The government has announced the issuance of health cards for the rich and the poor without any discrimination, but has not given any cut or savings formula to cover the coming expenses nor has it announced any additional budget.
In such cases, health insurance paying money can be a big challenge. The government is making welcome announcements like health cards before the elections. These announcements can be political slogans.
The incoming governments may not be able to continue this plan. But as long as this plan lasts, the people should continue to benefit, the people should get health facilities as long as they are welcome.
—The writer is a regular columnist, based in Lahore.