Government saves Sh1.3bn via improvement of health services

Monday December 17 2018

Rehoboth Kivuyo, tests a hearing aid device

Rehoboth Kivuyo, tests a hearing aid device (Cochlear Implant) for first time during an event aimed at switching on hearing devices for nine children at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam yesterday. The hospital has saved Sh1.3 billion by ensuring the service is carried out in the country. PHOTO|OMARY FUNGO. 

By Gladys Mbwiga @gladysmbwiga

Dar es Salaam. The government has saved up to Sh1.3 billion in a period of 15 month that would have been spent on treating patients abroad thanks to ear operation specialists in Tanzania.

Since June last year 21 children have had ear surgery in Tanzania, costing the government about Sh777 million. Without the experts it would have cost Sh2.1 billion to treat the patients abroad.

ENT consultant surgeon, Dr Edwin Liyombo, said availability of experts had increased, unlike before, the chance for more children to receive treatment and also helped the government to invest more in providing better healthcare locally than transferring patient abroad. “In the period between 2003 and 2016, 50 children were taken to India for treatment, but in the short period of only 15 months, 21 children have had the chance to access operations in the country,” he explained.

Yesterday, the children who had Cochlear Implant surgery for the first time were able to switch the machine on to enable them to hear for the first time.

Out of 1,000 children born, six have hearing problems and between two and three require surgery to help them hear. Also, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), by 2018 a total of 466 million people had hearing disability.

According to Dr Fayaz Jaffer, an Audiologist and Cochlear implant specialist after the surgery it takes about six weeks to switch on the hearing aid and almost a year and a half for the child to be able to cope with hearing as well as talking.

“The implant, does not only help the child to hear, but it is the first step towards learning how to talk. During the switch on every child reacts differently,” he said.

Belina Maro, a parent to Rehoboth Kivuyo, 3, who has hearing disability said today was the best day of her life because she had been dreaming of the day her son would be able to hear and talk like other children.