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Sunday July 14, 2024

Affording segment to pay for Sehat Sahulat Programme: official

Third-Party Validation (TPV) of the Sehat Sahulat programme was jointly conducted by the Health Services Academy (HSA) Islamabad

By M Waqar Bhatti
May 17, 2024
Coordinator to PM on National Health Services Regulations and Coordination Dr. Malik Mukhtar is addresses Third-party validation of Sehat Sahulat Program, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination on May 16, 2024. —  APP
Coordinator to PM on National Health Services Regulations and Coordination Dr. Malik Mukhtar is addresses Third-party validation of Sehat Sahulat Program, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination on May 16, 2024. —  APP

ISLAMABAD: Except for those living below the poverty line, the Sehat Sahulat programme (SSP) will now require an annual contribution of Rs 4,500 for the provision of health services to the people, Prime Minister’s Coordinator on Health, Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Bharath, announced on Thursday.

“Previously, everyone, including those who could afford healthcare, were part of the health insurance programme, which was unjustified. We have decided that only those deserving individuals living below the poverty line will receive health services under SSP free of charge. Affording individuals will be asked to contribute Rs. 4,500 annually to avail health benefits worth one million,” Dr Mukhtar Bharath told reporters after attending the unveiling of the third-party validation of SSP in Islamabad. Currently, Sehat Sahulat programme services are suspended in federal capital territories including Islamabad, Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Tharparkar district of Sindh as the federal government plans to introduce a co-payment mechanism to make the health insurance scheme universal.

The Third-Party Validation (TPV) of the Sehat Sahulat programme was jointly conducted by the Health Services Academy (HSA) Islamabad. Federal Secretary of Health, Nadeem Mahbub, Vice Chancellor of HSA Prof. Shahzad Ali Khan, CEO of the Sehat Sahulat programme Muhammad Arshad, representatives from partner organizations, and health officials were present at the occasion. PM’s health coordinator emphasized that even a poor person can afford to contribute Rs. 400 as a premium for health insurance and avail health services worth Rs. 1 million.

He urged the media and others to collaborate in raising awareness about this initiative. “Pakistan’s future is linked with health insurance, and it is not the government’s job to run public hospitals. Public hospitals should charge fees to insurance companies to provide health facilities to people,” he added.

Responding to a query, he highlighted the importance of using SSP data for policymaking and assessing disease burden in different districts of Pakistan.

Cardiovascular disease emerged as the most common ailment across Pakistan, prompting plans to provide cardiovascular treatment facilities at the district and tehsil levels. Dr. Bharath emphasized the economic and health challenges faced by Pakistan, including the highest number of hepatitis C infections, diabetes mellitus cases, tuberculosis, and maternal and child deaths.

He stressed that health services should be subsidized only for the poorest of the poor. He also expressed concerns about the credibility of data from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and called for collecting reliable data to plan the next health delivery system in Pakistan.

Vice Chancellor of HSA, Professor Shahzad Ali Khan, informed that HSA was selected for third-party validation through a competitive bidding process. HSA collaborated with Dopasi to submit the bid and was chosen after rigorous evaluation. “Actually, HSA was working for the Prime Minister’s National Health Insurance programme since the 2013 PML-N government. At that time HSA became the secretariat of social health protection programme. We did the first ever baseline survey of PM national health insurance programme. We had a huge data set of BISP beneficiaries and we knew about out of pocket spending on health”, Prof. Shahzad informed. “Today, we are disseminating the third-party validation of phase 1 of the programme, which was the brainchild of the Prime Minister National Health programme. HSA also partnered in expanding SSP in Punjab,” he explained.

Federal Health Secretary Nadeem Mahbub praised SSP for enhancing healthcare service delivery and reducing out-of-pocket expenditures for inpatient care. He invited everyone to join this noble endeavour, emphasizing that collective efforts can pave the way for a healthier future for all Pakistani citizens.

Muhammad Arshad, CEO of the Federal Sehat Sahulat Programme, expressed gratitude for the government’s support. Despite challenges, the programme has made significant strides towards Universal Health Coverage, aiming for 'Health for All' and transforming Pakistan into a true Welfare State. Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO Representative in Pakistan, commended SSP’s alignment with global health goals and reaffirmed WHO’s support for Pakistan’s journey toward Universal Health Coverage.