Tanzanians ready for universal health insurance

A new study has revealed that 73 percent of Tanzanians can comfortably subscribe to universal health insurance cover, with each person contributing Sh65,000 annually to access services at
health facilities across the country

Summary

  • This comes as the government said yesterday that it was in an advanced stage of enacting a universal health insurance scheme regulation

Dar es Salaam. A study has revealed that for the first time 73 percent of Tanzanians would comfortably subscribe to the universal health insurance scheme.

This comes as the government said yesterday that it was in an advanced stage of enacting a universal health insurance scheme regulation.

Speaking in the city, Health minister Ummy Mwalimu said a study by the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) established that 73 percent of Tanzanians who were involved in the study expressed their willingness to contribute to the universal health insurance fund.

“They say each Tanzanian is capable of contributing Sh65,000 per year for the purpose and in return, they will access health services at all health facilities in the country including the Muhimbili National Hospital and Bugando Zonal Referral Hospital among others,” she said.

Ms Mwalimu was speaking during the 31st Annual Scientific Conference organised by NIMR and graced by Vice President Philip Mpango.

Over 300 health experts from local and international organisations participated in the event to discuss how to improve health services around the globe.

Ms Mwalimu reiterated that the legislative piece would be completed in the near future.

The universal health insurance fund is in line with Tanzania’s 2007 Health Policy which requires all Tanzanians who are economically capable to contribute towards their health expenses whenever they need them.

Data produced in Parliament by Ms Mwalimu on Monday, showed that until December 2021, it was only a total of 9.094 million Tanzanians, representing about 15 percent of the population that had enrolled with a health insurance cover. This means that 85 percent of the country’s population was still using cash whenever accessing health services.

The project manager for Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPHI), Mr Ally Kebby, said the organisation was impressed with steps being taken by the government towards the universal health insurance coverage.

“When you take into consideration that many Tanzanians lack health insurance, the conference has come at the right time to discuss such a topic and thus advise the government on the current challenges and opportunities,” he said.

According to him, under their project, dubbed Health Promotion and System Streaming (HPSS), they developed innovative solutions in partnership with the government and support their integration into national institutions, systems and policies. The HPSS project strives to improve access to, utilisation and quality of health services in Tanzania.

Gracing the event, Dr Mpango called for full participation of the private sector in funding research and innovation as a solution to emerging global health challenges.

“Health is a cross-cutting issue, therefore there is need for the involvement of the private sector and others to take full part in funding, this is the only way we can conquer this challenge,” he said.

He stressed that Tanzania focuses on financing risk areas such as vaccines which will help in addressing challenges that arise.

Dr Mpango said the conference came at a time when the world was grappling with health challenges including Covid-19 and Polio as well as non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

According to him, the government believes in pioneering research as a solution to prominent global diseases. The government alone cannot address these challenges hence the need for the private sector to work together but mostly encourage research.

“Tap into digital technologies to address these challenges but also work together with other stakeholders in addressing the issues,” Dr Mpango, the Vice President, said.