Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said the incumbent government’s flagship health card scheme was “better” than the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, which inspired him in the early stages of his life.
“The thing [health card] which we are going to do, maybe other countries in the world have attempted this ambitious programme where every family will have health coverage. In rich countries, people have to pay premiums for such a facility,” he said at the launch of the ‘Naya Pakistan Qaumi Sehat Card’ in Islamabad.
Under the universal healthcare scheme, insurance cover of up to Rs1 million would be provided a year to each family of the federal capital.
The premier’s comparison comes as global health services - including the UK's NHA - are struggling to deal with another spike in cases due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the UK, health chiefs warned earlier this month that millions would suffer worsening quality of care unless England ministers take prompt action to overcome the staffing crisis facing the country, according to The Guardian, an English newspaper, on January 5, 2022.
Moreover, the NHS website shows that it provides multiple healthcare facilities – including Covid test, mental health, pregnancy, hospitals, healthcare for the armed forces community. Moreover, it also offers universal credit and a personal health budget. One of the four requirements of Universal Credit is the person have £16,000 or less in savings.
Elaborating on the benefits of his initiative, PM IMran said that anyone could get treatment under the schemce at government as well as private hospitals.
He lamented that the government’s hospitals standard "got down" over the past many years and doctors refused to travel to district hospitals. Such a system gave space to differences in health service between rich and poor people, he stated, adding that money defined access to healthcare.
Moreover, he said, the initiative would build pressure on government hospitals to improve their performance as people would have an option to get treatment at private hospitals.
Premier Imran stressed that leaders should not wait for any kind of prosperity to come for starting any public friendly schemes.
Reiterating his “mission of pursuing the vision as enshrined by the Riyasat-e-Madina”, he said that such a state stood on two principles: supporting the weak and ensuring rule of law.
“Today’s step [the health card initiative] will prove to be a defining moment for Pakistan and is a pathway towards greatness,” he said, adding the nation strengthens when the whole nation becomes a stakeholder. “The public provides national security and this strengthens the country.”
Around Rs450 billion worth of funds were being invested on the health card scheme, he said, adding: “No one in Pakistan’s history reached near to this plan.”
Lauding Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on the initiative, the prime minister said that Buzdar understood the situation better because he hails from one of the least developed parts of the province.. “He [Buzdar] is well aware of people’s hardships."
While lauding Buzdar for being attuned to people's need, the PM also took an apparent swipe at Shehbaz Sharif, the former Punjab chief minister and his politicla rival for for wearing “hat and coat” while meeting people.
He also defended the Punjab executive over the criticism he has faced in many sections of the media.
“I have never seen such a campaign against any chief minister like the one against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. But when the countrywide survey came out, Buzdar was the number one chief minister in the country. God likes simplicity,” PM Imran said.
He also announced the setting up five mother and child hospitals in remote areas of Punjab in order to overcome the high infant and maternal mortality rates.
“Inshallah we will become an example for the whole world how a welfare state should be,” he said.