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LAHORE: Launching a ‘Naya Pakistan Sehat Card’ scheme, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that all families in Punjab will get health cards by March 2022.

“This is a defining moment towards our course to make Pakistan a welfare state,” the premier said this while addressing the launching ceremony here.

He said that 440 billion rupees will be spent on the health card programme in three years. "Through this programme, private sector will be encouraged to invest in healthcare sector, and hospitals will be set up in backward areas," he added.

The PM said: “You will see. In a few years, a web of hospitals will be spread across Pakistan. Private hospitals will be constructed even in the poorest areas of the country.” This scheme will provide the annual health insurance cover of Rs 1 million to each family across the province.

He said starting from January 2022, the Sehat Card would be distributed within three months allowing whole of the Punjab population to avail free medical treatment. “This is not a health insurance rather a health system. Now private sector will build hospitals even in villages where the basic health units remain vacant as no doctor desires to be posted there. Now private sector will come and the poorest of the poor will get free treatment,” he said.

Sehat Sahulat Programme extended to entire country: Dr Sultan

He said every possible step is being taken to facilitate the public during price hike. He said that ‘Ehsaas Ration Cards’ will be provided to half the population of Pakistan with every family whose monthly income is below fifty thousand rupees and they will get a thirty per cent discount on flour, pulses and sugar from ‘Karyana’ stores.

Shedding light on how important it is for a country to have the modern and state-of-the-art medical infrastructure, the premier said that when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, his family had to take her abroad for treatment, which pushed him to establish a cancer hospital in Pakistan where people, especially the poor, could go for treatment free of charge. He said the people had to sell their belongings while getting treatment.

He maintained that the country has to spend Rs100 million per year to run the health system. He went on to praise his government’s policy of imposing smart and micro-smart lockdowns as opposed to a full-fledged lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic and said that the entire world praised Pakistan for that. However, he added, the opposition continued to criticise his government.

He said that Riyasat-e-Madina was the first welfare state in the world history. He said that a welfare state like Madina can only be established once humanity is served in any country. He said that Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital was set up under the same philosophy. He said that ten billion rupees are spent annually for treatment of cancer patients at Shaukat Khanum Hospital. “Pakistan was meant to be Islamic welfare state under the Objectives Resolution,” he said.

He appreciated the Punjab Chief Minister and Health Minister for launching Naya Pakistan Health Card Program in the province. He said that measures are being taken to control price hike, though it is a global trend these days.

He said that 6.2 million scholarships are being provided to youth, worth 47 billion rupees to encourage deserving students from poor families.

Addressing the ceremony, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said that the health sector is the Punjab government’s top priority. He said that nine hospitals have been set up in the last three years.

Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid said on the occasion that 8.5 million health cards have been distributed in Punjab so far. She said that under this program, 30 million families will be provided health cards by March next year.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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