Sehat Sahulat Program (SSP) is steadily advancing as a much-needed social welfare initiative. State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan partnered this project with all provincial governments, NADRA, and Benazir Bhutto income support program. Due to this collaboration, the Ministry of Health provides surveillance of SSP by maintaining statistics and audits.
The successful launch of the program in KPK province was followed by launching it in AJK as the promise is to extend this program to all citizens of Pakistan.
According to the SSP website, more than 7 million families have been enrolled, about 1.5 million have had hospital visits and the satisfaction rate is quoted up to 97%.
This sounds true, as more and more patients from AJK and KPK are presenting Insaf cards at private hospitals in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The procedures covered on the card include Cardiac Surgery, Kidney Transplant, Hemodialysis for chronic kidney disease, Paediatric surgery, Maternity services, etc.
Private hospitals vs. government hospitals
I also had the opportunity to interact with some patients and mark my observations. Almost all patients believe that private medical centers can provide better care as compared to government hospitals.
The main reasons cited for their distaste with the government sector are callous overworked staff, uncleanliness, and the need for the patient to bring medications for self.
On the contrary, private hospitals stand tall with shinning glass panels, silver elevators, and LED monitors in the waiting areas and wards. In addition to this, a Sehat Insaf card representative is present to guide them through their journey at the hospital.
Challenges facing SSP
Sehat Sahulat Program is indeed a novel scheme launched in good faith, but it is a big challenge to maintain patient satisfaction in face of increasing expenses for the government.
Currently, it takes at least 3 months for bills to get approved. This translates to the reality that hospitals and concerned staff keep waiting to get their share of the compensation for many months.
Moreover, the surgeon generally gets a very humble (16%) share out of the package adjusted by SSP. As coverage of the Sehat Insaf card grows, Government will face another dilemma of payments pending to hospitals and doctors. The gap between expectation and reality will soon start to widen!
The author has done MBBS, MCPS, FCPS, MCCEE, and is a consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist at Mega Medical Complex. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.