Marginalised communities number in the tens or even hundreds in the country. With being marginalised, many facilities are taken away — including healthcare — for which poverty further becomes a hindrance. The Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is opting to change one aspect of their marginalised community members, namely, differently-abled persons and transgenders. Under the gamut of its Sehat Sahulat Programme, which previously only covered in-patient treatment, more citizens will be covered for out-patient treatments and procedures as well. This is a progressive step by the K-P government, recognising that differently-abled and transgender persons are some of the most commonly neglected citizens.
The social welfare department is stepping up to meet the needs of its citizens. Better coverage for 2.5 million citizens in K-P would result in better overall fitness, which could effectively reduce other healthcare costs over time, such as prevention or early treatment of obesity, heart disease, or diabetes. Thus, while the plan might not be transparent as to how the increased costs of treating millions of more citizens will be met, the overall result will be that the incidence of disease decreases over time. Currently, however, it is unclear where the additional funds would come from or which other programmes might be affected.
If such systems are being introduced under the law, it should be ascertained that they are followed as prescribed, without abuse. As with any amendment to a system, the provincial health department in tandem with provincial public and private hospitals must ensure that they are equipped to deal with an influx of hundreds of thousands more patients. K-P’s move to provide transgender and differently-abled persons with free healthcare is considerate, granted that funding sources are carefully vetted. Other provinces should follow suit.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2017.