THE Benjamin Mkapa Hiv/Aids Foundation is already assured of running the first year of its second phase Fellows Programme after fundraising over 3bn/- at a gala held recently.
The fundraising dinner in which President Jakaya Kikwete and two former heads of state, Mr Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa, attended was able to surpass the evening's target of 3bn/- from the private sector, public organizations and personalities.
At the colourful event a total of 3.35bn/- was realised, kicking off efforts in which 16bn/- is targeted for collection for the 5-year Mkapa Fellows Programme.
The programme aims to complement government efforts in tackling the HIV/Aids challenge and prevention of maternal and newborn deaths to achieve millennium development goals (MDGs) national targets.
In 6 years, the organization has undertaken seven major initiatives including their premier programme of Mkapa Fellows and facilitated the recruitmenet and deployment of 600 health professionals to work in rural districts, regional hospitals and health training institutions.
While addressing the audience, President Kikwete termed the initiative as noble, noting that if 16bn/- budget is realized, some 2.5m people would be reached in 15 districts and that is substantial.
"This cause is worth our support. Nothing is more consoling than saving lives of those who have contracted HIV/aids," said President Kikwete.He said the organisation's efforts are significant at a time when prevalence of HIV is at 5.7 per cent while for women, it is higher at 6.3 per cent.
Some 1.6m people live with HIV, yet only 30 per cent of those in need of Anti-Retroviral therapy can access the drugs.There were testimonials from medical doctors who have benefited from the first Fellowship programme and are now working in rural hospitals.
When the auctioning started, first to be bought was a portrait of a mother and a child which was bought at 20m/-.The second, was a picture of all the previous 3 and the current president bought by the Pan African Energy Deputy Managing Director William Chiume.
Third was a Tanzanite stone bought at $12,000.Organisations and Companies which contributed included Africa Barrick Gold(800m/-), NSSF(170m/-),Bank M(100m/-),Quality Group (100m/-), Geita Gold Mine(80m/-),Clouds Media Group (50m/-),CRDB Bank(30m/-),Commercial Bank of Africa (20m/-),Ecobank (3.5m),among many others.
Others were personalities who included President Kikwete (5m/-), among others.In September, retired President Mkapa will meet various people in the US who will support the cause.The Foundation's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ellen Senkoro, said their programmes compliment government efforts using existing structures, health systems strengthening on the side of human resources, maternal health and HIV/Aids.
She said they expect to recruit 180 health professionals inclusive of 45 doctors and also skills development of more than 1,500 health workers.Furthermore, 30 operating theatres at primary health centres will be rehabilitated.
The Foundation is a Trust and non- profit making Tanzanian institution founded 6 years ago by former head of state Benjamin Mkapa. It came into existence with the facilitative role of former US President Bill Clinton through Clinton Foundation.Through collaboration with the government of Tanzania and Norway - the Mkapa Foundation and its parent programme - Mkapa Fellows Programme was established.
Previously, they have built skills and knowledge of more than 700 district health managers and staff on effective leadership and have enhanced skills to more than 500 health professionals on HIV/Aids management resulting into reaching more than 100,000 people living with Hiv/Aids.