ISLAMABAD: The initial budget of Rs 70 billion allocated by federal government and Punjab for Sehat Sahulat Programme in Pakistan’s largest province can be revised to Rs 85 billion, to be released partially in the outgoing fiscal year and remaining amount in the upcoming fiscal year 2022-23, for the provision of healthcare facilities to 30 million families in Punjab and 200,000 families in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) this year.
Information obtained by Business Recorder suggests that Punjab government, in collaboration with federal government, would provide State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan Rs 20 billion by June 30, 2021 and Rs 50 billion in the next fiscal year starting from July 1 this year. The provincial government would revise this budget to provide State Life another Rs 15 billion if required, it is learnt.
A senior government official said the provincial government has signed an agreement with State Life, through competitive bidding following PPRA (Public Procurement Regulatory Authority) rules, for the extension of Sehat Sahulat Programme in the entire Punjab.
Under the agreement, Punjab government would provide State Life Rs 2,849 per family annually, it is learnt.
A Punjab government official told Business Recorder that provincial government has set a target to cover all the residents of Punjab under Sehat Sahulat Programme latest by December 31. The entire population of ICT would be covered under Punjab Sehat Sahulat Programme, he said.
“This would be done in a phase-wise manner like it was done in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In next three to four months, some districts of Punjab will have Sehat Sahulat Programme, other districts would be covered in the coming months and the entire province and ICT would be covered by the end of this year,” the official said.
Regarding funding constraints, provincial government officials claim, funding issues would not hinder Sehat Sahulat Programme in Punjab as international financial institutions including World Bank have pledged to support Pakistan’s healthcare and social safety initiatives.
Recently, World Bank approved $ 600 million for expansion of Ehsaas Programme and another $ 120 million for Prime Minister’s Green Stimulus Initiative.
Sources said federal government is hopeful that World Bank would also financially support Sehat Sahulat Programme.
The plan is also on the cards to include Covid-19 treatment in the Sehat Sahulat Programme in Punjab, officials said.
In KP, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has already accorded approval to include Covid-19 treatment in Sehat Sahulat Programme for the entire population.
“And in Punjab, if funding requirements are met as per expectations, Rs 85 billion Sehat Sahulat Programme budget would be further increased to include Covid treatment,” a well-placed source said.
“Punjab is the country’s biggest province and its healthcare system is under immense stress due to massive outbreak of third wave of the coronavirus. So, we have to weigh all pros and cons before making any decision as ambitious as covering Covid treatment in Sehat Sahulat Programme,” he said.
A KP government spokesman told Business Recorder that over 101,000 patients in the province received free healthcare under Sehat Sahulat Programme from November 1, 2020 till March 31, 2021. He confirmed that CM KP has approved including Covid-19 treatment in Sehat Sahulat Programme.
So far, KP is the only province where the entire population of around eight million families has been granted Sehat Sahulat Programme facility.
The federal and KP government are paying over Rs 21 billion to State Life as annual premium for the provision of healthcare insurance to eight million deserving families under Sehat Sahulat Programme, a KP government official told Business Recorder.
The health coverage to the deserving families is under two categories - major and secondary diseases. Major refers to serious illness with up-to Rs 600,000 limit such as cardiac, liver, kidney, hepatitis diabetes and secondary refers to relatively minor ailments with up to Rs 120,000 on hospitalisation.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021