9 February 2011

Tanzania: Govt Embarks on Plan to Boost Health Services

Dodoma — The government has been implementing a ten-year programme to bring basic health services close to the people through providing health facilities.

These include dispensaries and clinics which have helped in reducing the high rates of maternal and child mortality, particularly in remote rural areas.

This was said yesterday in the parliament by the deputy minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Lucy Nkya, when responding to a question from the Same East MP, Ms Anne Kilango. The latter had wanted to know how the government had prepared itself to employ health attendants, including midwives, for village dispensaries.

In response, Dr Nkya said the government has taken several measures, including opening new health colleges in Nachingwea, Nzega and Kibondo which had been closed for a long time.

"Those colleges provide nursing training courses. More nursing colleges are in the offing in Lugala,Mbalizi,Murgwanza, Berega and Bulongwa to churn out more health personnel ahead of the implementation of the programme to construct a dispensary in every ward," she explained.

She said the colleges would also be used to train employees to upgrade their skills. She told the House that a course for clinical assistants, formerly known as rural medical assistants, has been re-introduced. Also re-introduced is that for assistant nurses, as a way of addressing the shortage of health workers, she explained.

Dr Nkya continued to say that the government has set a special budget for supporting villagers who participate in building their own dispensaries. Villages which complete constructing health facilities would be provided with motor cycle ambulances to assist in transporting pregnant women and children to referral hospitals, she said.

"However, the free market in terms of employment is a challenge to the programme as most trainees in health colleges prefer to secure employment in private health facilities.

"Therefore the government urges private health centres to invest in training health assistants to support government efforts to improve health services in urban and rural areas," remarked Dr Nkya.

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