Dar es Salaam. 70 per cent of Tanzanians, who attended public health facilities last May, didn’t get the essential medicine and other medical supplies, a new study shows.
The study titled ‘Health check: A citizen diagnosis of health sector challenge’ was conducted by a local research institution, Twaweza, and involved 1,080 respondents from Mainland Tanzania.
Some of those, who attended the launch of the report expressed concerns that although the budget for drugs and other medical supplies was raised from Sh36 billion in 2015/16 to Sh251 billion in 2016/17, still many of public health facilities lacked essential medicines.
Kigoma Urban Member of Parliament Zitto Kabwe was doubtful whether funds from the approved budget was spent on the purpose.
“The assumptions could be either the government didn’t release the money that was approved by Parliament or the medicines were not delivered on time, either way; the responsible authority must provide an explanation,” he said.
According to him the government should have a strategic plan to arrest challenges facing the health sector in order to guarantee wellbeing of man power for sustainable development of the country.
He also proposed that the government should adopt modern ways of tracking supply chains of medical supplies from the Medical Stores Department (MSD) to the destination.
This, according to him, will enable the government to have correct information on the demand and act accordingly in a real time.
“The software that is being used in Kigoma can automatically track medical supplies in real time from the MSD to local hospitals, dispensaries and health centres,” he said.
Moreover, it can be used simultaneously by health facilities, local government authorities and the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.
His thoughts were seconded by Information Officer from the European Union (EU), Mr Hussein Mussa, who asked the government to take measures to address the matter.
However, responding to the concerns and issues raised, MSD’s acting director general Sako Mwakalobo refuted the claims of the shortage saying from Mach this year, they supplied over 80 per cent of the orders they received.
He assured that all essential drugs were available and that more strategies have been implemented to curb the shortage.
The report further said that 73 per cent of Tanzanians were not yet on the health insurance schemes and hence faced financial difficulties in accessing health services when they became ill.
Available data shows that only 13 per cent of the population is covered under the Community Health Fund (CHF) insurance and eight per cent are served under the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).
Reacting to the findings, a representative from the Japan Embassy, Mr Benedict Kikombe, advised the government to push more for the health insurance cover for its citizens.
The report also highlighted the increased public confidence to the government-run health facilities as the number of attendees has gone up to 61 per cent by May, this year from 45 per cent in 2014.
Twaweza’s research officer Nelly Njovu said the reasons behind the increase included improved accessibility of public hospitals, improved services as well as the increase of public trust on government hospitals and health centres.