Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that his government aims to turn Pakistan into a welfare state as envisioned by the founding fathers of the country.
He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the "Universal Health Coverage" initiative for Azad Kashmir. Under the scheme, every individual will receive a health insurance card to cover their medical costs.
"I am very happy to launch this health service for the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir," the premier said. "Through this facility, 1.2 million families of the region will be able to receive free medical treatment at 350 hospitals across Pakistan."
Speaking about his motivation behind the initiative, he quoted the example of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, which he created 25 years ago to provide world-class medical facilities to all people, irrespective of their socio-economic status.
"When I entered politics, I had a resolve to do something about those who cannot pay hospital bills to save the lives of their loved ones," he said.
"This particularly holds true for a disease like cancer which is very costly to treat, and many families are pushed below the poverty line while paying for the treatment."
PM Imran Khan added that even some developed countries of the world do not have universal health coverage, but Pakistan took "the brave step and introduced this facility despite struggling with debts and limited resources."
"The government wants to make sure that the basic needs of the masses are met," he said, adding that he wants to turn Pakistan into a welfare state.
"Once we turn into a welfare state, we will transform into the Pakistan which was envisioned by our founding fathers," he said. "The introduction of universal health coverage in Azad Jammu and Kashmir is a step towards that goal."