MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said he regarded serving the masses a sacred duty and the objective of his government was only to ensure welfare of the people.
Addressing the launch of PM’s National Health Programme in Azad Kashmir, the Prime Minister said launch of the scheme was a dream come true as provision of quality healthcare to those who cannot afford it, was part of his party’s manifesto.
The Prime Minister said the programme initially has been implemented in 23 districts of Pakistan and said it would be extended to other areas in phases.
“We believe politics is meant only to serve the masses, and we are doing it as a sacred duty,” the prime minister said.
He said a lot of work has been put in before the health insurance scheme saw the light of the day and was launched initially in Islamabad on Dec 31 last year. He said so far one patient has undergone a heart bypass operation and said it was a major step forward towards providing free healthcare services. He said the scheme also covers liver transplant, diabetes treatment and other ailments.
The Prime Minister lauded all those involved in the scheme and said serving the poor was a great service to the nation. He said this scheme has been launched in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and those people who could not afford costly medical treatment can get it now free of cost from the government.
He said that Muzaffarabad was the second district where the programme was launched to provide in-hospital services to around 82,000 poor beneficiaries.
He said the health insurance scheme was tailor-made for the downtrodden as he realises that a person in a family can need upto Rs 0.3 million for heart treatment, and if he does not have enough resources, he will end up getting more poor as the burden of loans pile up.
“It is our endeavour to ensure that the people do not have to sell their house hold goods and even property to get medical treatment.”
He said there was a need to invest more into this vital area so as to lessen the sufferings of the people.
The prime minister said that all those who received their health cards today would be able to avail the services from the same day. He said work was underway to expand the services in entire Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
He was particularly appreciative of the hard work put in by Maryum Nawaz and Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarrar and said he was pleased to note that in this public service endeavour all political parties like PML-N and PPP were standing together.
The Prime Minister also announced on the occasion provision of two buses and Rs 100 million for the Muzaffarabad Medical College.
The event was attended by the President AJK Sardar Yaqub, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir and Maryam Nawaz.
AJK President Sardar Yaqub lauded Nawaz Sharif for strongly highlighting the cause of Kashmiris at international fora.
He mentioned that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif carried out several development projects in AJK, of which the Laptop Scheme and Fee Reimbursement scheme were significant.
He said in 67 years for the first time the AJK got a medical college during this tenure which was named after the Kashmiri leader Mir Waiz.
AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed said the launch of National Health Programme in AJK was a milestone and expressed confidence that it would benefit the masses.
He requested Prime Minister Sharif to extend the domain of the Health Programme to the areas along the Line of Control.
The scheme to be launched initially in two districts of AJK – Muzaffarabad and Kotli would benefit 82,362 and 79,004 families respectively.
The scheme has been designed for poor families, whose daily income is less than US 2 dollars (PKR 200), and provides free of cost access to secondary as well as priority diseases treatment. The annual cover of the scheme is up to PKR 300,000 extendable to PKR 600,000.
The programme covers Heart Diseases (Angioplasty/bypass), Diabetes Mellitus, Burns and RTA (Life, Limb Saving Treatment, implants, Prosthesis), End stage kidney diseases/dialysis, Chronic infections (Hepatitis/HIV), Organ Failure (Liver, Kidney, Heart, Lungs) and Cancer (Chemo, Radio, Surgery).