Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday launched a highly ambitious ‘Prime Minister’s National Health Programme’. The program aims to provide free medical care to poor families whose daily income is less than Rs 200 at both public and private hospitals. Under the programme that has been launched in 23 districts in the first phase, cardholders will be able to get free medical treatment and medicines of up to Rs300, 000 at the designated public and private hospitals. However, in case of a need for further treatment, the patients could be provided an additional funding of up to Rs300, 000 through the Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal.
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) had also launched a similar program last month but on a much smaller scale. Under the program launched in four districts of KPK the underprivileged will be able to receive medical assistance of Rs.25000 per person annually.
Healthcare has long been a neglected sector in the country, the condition of Government hospitals and the sheer burden on the existing facilities means that only those who cannot afford (which accounts for a huge percentage of the country’s total population) treatment at private facilities. Critics of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), the ruling party also blame the party for severely neglecting the health and education sector while spending billions on roads, underpasses and mass transit system. However, with what many regard as the result of Maryam Nawaz’s vision the Federal Government has now prioritized the education and health sectors, a step that has been appreciated by even the party’s most vocal critics. The roll-out of the National Health Programme is a positive step and we wish for its success.
The long neglected health and education sectors are now finally being looked at by the Federal Government.