All the incumbent government policies revolve around its manifesto of poverty alleviation by giving incentives to industries and allowing investors to create wealth that would create job opportunities and eventually reduce or alleviate poverty. No country can progress until it spends on uplift of education and health sectors. The government is striving to improve these sectors, ensuring the best possible use of available resources. The Sehat Insaf Card Scheme launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan is the latest step in this direction. Unluckily, healthcare system in Pakistan has been an ambition that we have never come close to accomplishing. As an alternative, we have always relied on a patchwork of private and public hospitals and misperception exists between the federal and provincial governments over who should be running hospitals. Thus, there needs to be some transparency over how healthcare facilities are to be managed as those lacking adequate financial resources are compelled to visit crowded government hospitals, face scenes of utter chaos, absence of medical staff, non-availability of free medicines and an indifferent environment. Resultantly, the collateral damage of this sad state of affairs is the instinctive way out for the poor segments of society to contact quacks and pirs. They entrap the people by offer of a cheap cure for all ills under the sun. The ruling PTI’s manifesto also professes turning the country into a welfare state and in that endeavor, the target populace obviously comprises the vast majority of marginalized citizens, particularly those surviving despondently below the poverty line, therefore the National Health Program, the Sehat Insaf Card is a promise delivered covered by an insurance scheme. At first, these cards will be distributed in only Islamabad and the tribal areas that have merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the prime minister hopes to expand the program after that. It may also incorporate Tharparkar in Sindh, with about 10 million to be provided the health facility in Punjab reportedly within three months, and with every citizen receiving a health card by 2030. An annual medical limit of Rs720, 000 is available to each deserving family, which is sufficient to cover most ailments, including surgeries, Rs10, 000 for funeral expenses and Rs1, 000 for each hospital visit. The service providers will include both government hospitals and approved private clinics. To test efficacy of the system in practice, and to fool-proof it against misuse, relevant data from all the concerned organizations, NADRA, Benazir Income Support Program, Bait-ul Maal and Zakat would be closely coordinated and merged. Welcome health relief of this magnitude is unprecedented, and needs to be extended to the entire country on top priority basis.
Building promised new hospitals and extending these health benefits will enhance the overall positive impact on poverty alleviation.