Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement to offer universal health coverage to every resident in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is historic. This is what the country has needed for a long time; a system that allows for universal healthcare, in a country where quality healthcare has only been provided by expensive private hospitals.

The issuance of health cards will be a phase-wise process, especially in Punjab, given the large population of the province. However, the sheer scale of the project is something that the government rightly deserves to be proud of.

Considering how costly healthcare is in Pakistan, the step will ease the financial burden on many. The Sehat Sahulat Program (SSP) in the two provinces will indeed prove a milestone towards social welfare reforms. It will ensure that the residents across KP and Punjab get access to their entitled medical healthcare in a dignified manner.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the project is an ambitious one. Chances of its failure are equally great. Therefore, the provincial health departments must look at the previous record and success rates of the SSP. They must see where they went wrong. In Punjab, over the last one year, out of five million families with Insaf Sehat Cards, only 93,000 people benefited from the facility. First, the concerned officials must increase the number of beneficiaries. The next crucial step that the authorities must ensure is the provision of healthcare and services. If either of these issues is not addressed then providing quality healthcare cannot be ensured.