Campaign for universal health coverage picks up in Tanzania

Wednesday December 12 2018

Campaigners for Universal Health Coverage march

Campaigners for Universal Health Coverage march along Dar es Salaam streets on December 12 to mark UHC Day 2018, a globally-recognized event meant to raise voices for people who cant access healthcare due to financial challenges. 

By Gadiosa Lamtey @gadiosa2

Dar es Salaam. As the world marked Universal Health Coverage Day on December 12, health stakeholders in Tanzania marched peacefully in Dar es Salaam to raise voices high for people who miss out on healthcare services due to financial hardships.

Colored by a brass band from the Dar es Salaam police, the campaigners from People’s Health Movement (PHM), Health Promotion Tanzania (HDT) and AgaKhan Health Services, streamedas they walked along the Al Hassan Mwinyi Road from Hubert Kairuki Memorial Hospitalthen to Kawawa road before branching off to the Biafra grounds in Kinondoni district.

The world is now driving a major campaign to ensure that every person—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have, can access quality health services without suffering financial hardship. The aim is to achieve the vision by 2030.

In Dar es Salaam, a message of solidarity was echoed among stakeholders as they aimed to rally support the country’s decision makers in healthcare to bridge healthcare financing gaps but also calling upon the society to enroll on healthcare insurance.  Blood donation services and health messages were part of the event package.

The event, named UHCDay2018, was graced by the president of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT), Dr Elisha Osati who called on the government to look into ways of boosting primary healthcare as a way of reaching out to many people who are underserved in the country.

“We’ve all witnessed the efforts the current government is investing in improving healthcare delivery, but, there is still much to do to ensure that the health workforce is boosted. There are people who may have died because there was no doctor to see them.If there are enough doctors, a number of deaths can be reduced,’’ said Dr Osati during the event.

The Executive Director of People’s Health Movement, Mr Godfrey Philemon said that it was time now for Tanzania to fast track the mandatory health insurance  and the single health insurance plan as a way of supporting the over 70 percent of the population n who are not on medical cover.

“Right now, we are seeing inequities in healthcare provision because the health insurance system favours certain people and not others. For instance, the services obtained by a person with a Community Health Fund insurance do not match those of a person with National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). This is what we need to work on now,” said Mr Philemon.

For his part, the Health Promotion Tanzania (HDT) Executive Director Dr Peter Bujari advised politicians to invest their effort in supporting universal health coverage because it has significant political benefits too.

Dr Bujari added that a health financing strategy which the government is now planning to implement would come as a relief to people and replace private voluntary health financing especially the out-of-pocket payment.

He emphasized, “The government should allocate and disburse enough funds for the health sector, aiming to reach government expenditure of 4 per cent of GDP by 2023 an estimated Sh24.7 trillion for five year,” he said.