Protests by surgeons halt cardiac surgeries – 21 Feb 2023

Newly-revised package of free heart procedures under health card has been delayed

The newly revised package of free cardiac surgery for heart disease sufferers under Sehat Sahulat (Health program) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has been delayed once again after protests by cardiac surgeons.

According to sources, in May last year, the Pakistan Association of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons Khyber Pakhtunkhwa refused to perform free cardiac surgery under Sehat Insaf Card in the province, which caused serious problems to patients suffering from heart diseases across the province.

On the other hand, the burden of patients on cardiac units in government hospitals has not only increased, but they are being given long dates for cardiac surgeries.

As per details shared by the sources, the surgeons had the reservation that the government has set rates of Rs280,000 to Rs380,000 per surgery. However, more than Rs480,000 are being charged for cardiac surgery in hospitals across the country.

Similarly, the cardiac surgeons also said that due to the expensive dollar, all the devices and stents have become very expensive, for which there is an urgent need to review the rates.

It was expressed that heart surgeries are not possible in the rates fixed by the government under health card.

Sources say that according to an estimate, around 50 heart surgeries are being performed daily in the province. And the surgeries on Health Card have increased three hundred times in the province.

It is being said that the hospitals assured the health department of the complete management in this regard. While under the increasing need of patients in the province and in view of the problems, the health facility program had also prepared a new review package for cardiac surgeons some time ago, but due to the increase in political activities of the former health minister in the last period of his tenure, it could not be presented for approval in the policy board meeting.

Even after the arrival of the caretaker government, the portfolio of the health sector was not handed over to any minister, the meeting of the policy board has not yet been held.

Sources say that although a consultant has now been appointed for the health department, the matter is still suffering from legal complications.

In this regard, the top authorities say that the rules and regulations in the law of the policy board are being looked at, whether the health advisor has the authority to preside over the meeting of the policy board in the absence of the health minister.

The policy board meeting must be held every month according to the rules and regulations. However, because this meeting is not being held, many issues of the Health Facilitation Program have been delayed.

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