(Peshawar): Tehreek-i-Insaf led Government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa takes the lead in conferring health insurance on transgenders living all across the province. In an official Ceremony today, officials of social welfare and health department distributed Sehat Insaf Cards among members of the transgenders’ community at press club Peshawar. It starts an era of equality in access to healthcare for the transgenders community.
Transgender community across Pakistan are faced with challenges and discrimination. Their access to social services has been constrained, including their access to healthcare. Via enrolling this community in the much hailed Sehat Sahulat Program, the impact of discrimination, stigmatization and marginalization will lessen. Members of the transgenders community will have the same benefit package as enjoyed by existing beneficiaries of the scheme. They will be able to utilize services to the tune of Rs. 540,000/- (5400 USD approx.) per beneficiary per year. They will be able to access both public as well as private sector hospitals free of cost under the scheme.
Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is incrementally moving towards Universal Health Coverage. Its social health protection scheme, also brand-named as Sehat Sahulat Program started with only 4 districts covering 21% of its population, but soon it expanded to all districts of the province covering 51% population. However, in its 3rd phase the coverage has been further expanded to 69% of the entire population. The enrolled households can access healthcare services across the province, get treated at both public and quality private hospitals. Around 1.8 billion rupees have been spent on treatments under the scheme till date and more than 70,000 admissions/surgeries have been performed under the scheme.
Director Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr. Ayub Roz said “we are committed to provide and serve health facilities and services to majority of the population in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Transgender community through various forms of initiatives. Transgender inclusion in the Sehat Card scheme reflects our priorities in provision of health services.
Social Welfare Abid Kakakhail on this occasion said “The scheme will not only help to provide free health care services to transgender community but will also help in reducing poverty ratio and eliminating the barrier which prevents them from getting medical assistance as they are less likely to have any financial assistance to cover their health care costs. Social Welfare Department is also working to finalize KP transgender protection policy and a high-level committee is constituted by the KP Govt to finalize the draft.Director Sehat Sahulat Programme said “the approval of summary by the Chief Minster with regard to the health insurance facility is a landmark decision. Under the scheme ‘Sehat Cards’ will be issued to transgender community through which they will be able to avail free medical treatment facilities from nominated hospitals. The current scheme State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) would also offer the same set of benefits to the transgender in the same premium.”
Qamar Naseem, program coordinator “Blue Veins” and member of the Chief Minister Special Committee on the rights of transgender persons said “It took us two years to reach here and we plan to move a long way. Inclusion of transgender community in the Health Insurance scheme is a win for the community and the Government both alike. Government represent the well of the people and such steps taken by the Government gives us the sense of ownership. Today, we can proudly say that transgenders have equal right to access healthcare, without any financial constraints”.
Farzana Jan, president of Trans-Action Alliance KP expressed her gratitude on behalf of the transgender community. She maintained that “we highly appreciate KP Govt for this positive gesture, which will promote equality among citizens. Scores of transgenders had severe medical problems, but didn’t have the resources to get their treatment done. That’s not the case anymore, as these cards will give the accessibility without any financial hardships.”