Government sets aside Sh149 billion for universal health coverage

The government spokesperson, Mr Gerson Msigwa speakind during the meeting with NHIF. PHOTO | COURTESY

Dodoma. The government has set aside Sh149 billion for implementation of the universal health coverage whose implementation is scheduled to start later this year if the Parliament endorses the bill.

The government plans to table in the coming House sitting a bill for the universal health coverage, which clerics advocated last week.

The government spokesperson, Mr Gerson Msigwa, said during a meeting between the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and editors that the bill would be submitted in the Parliament. Bunge sessions are expected to resume next week.

Opening the meeting, Mr Msigwa said the government was aware of the significance of the health insurance cover to its citizens, saying after many years of discussions, the government planned to start implementing the policy this year.

“I would like to take this opportunity to commend Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, for her decision to start providing this service this year,” he said.

He said Sh149 billion would be used to start providing services to the citizens who are incapable of covering costs of health services that are provided by hospitals, health centres and dispensaries across the country.

He said however that, the government’s plan was to implement the health insurance provision in phases until all Tanzanians are covered.

“I understand that the bill will be tabled in Parliament during the September sessions, but following the importance of this service, it has started allocating funds, so that when the bill is passed and assented into law, something should be there to enable groups of Tanzanians lacking financial capabilities to access health services,” he said.

Closing the meeting, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) director general Bernard Konga said the Sh149 billion would be spent for covering health insurance of 26 percent Tanzanians living below the poverty line.

The Universal Health Care Act expected to be enacted by Parliament is the one that will establish how the services would be provided.

According to him, different groups of Tanzanians would be enrolled into the service in different phases, stressing identifying beneficiaries of the first phase was well known.

“Our Rwandan neighbours have made significant progress in provision of universal health services to its citizens. Our achievement will attract other African countries to learn from us,” he said.

He warned service providers (hospitals, health centres and dispensaries) that provide poor services, saying NHIF will not hesitate to take sterb measures against those providing poor services.

“Regardless of their names, service providers implicated in poor services would their contracts be suspnded indifiniyely. Our members deserve better healthcare services,” he said.

He said there would be no time of flattering, insisting that the fund’s priority was outstanding services to its members.

Furthermore, Mr Msigwa said the government has allocated over Sh1.4 trillion in the 2021/22 Fiscal Year for the health sector, during which hospitals and dispensaries will be built and procurement of medicine and medical equipment for public hospitals will be improved.

He said Sh13 billion has been returned to regions with special instructions that 50 percent of the amount should be utilized for procurement of medicine and medical equipment in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

“My hope is that NHIF will continue doing better for the interest of Tanzanians. Likewise, editors will take aboard the government’s intention and ensure stories filed by journalist will enable citizens to benefit with insurance and treatment services,” he said.

He commended NHIF for widening provision of services by allowing individuals to join in the funds and enable some health facilities to improve services provided.

He mentioned some of the hospitals where NHIF has played significant role in improving services delivered as the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (Moi), the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), Bugando and regional hospitals.