A TOTAL of 500m/- has been distributed to over 80 private health facilities in the country in loans after getting access to the Medical Credit Fund.
The Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA) Quality Officer, Ms Judith Njau, told the 'Daily News' during the second national quality improvement forum on Thursday that 84 facilities had benefited from the fund while 16 others were being processed.
"In 2012, our target is to reach out to at least 100 facilities and we will meet the target before the end of the year. Since 2011, we have managed to expand, train and sensitise people in Tanga, Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro as well in the Lake Zone areas of Mwanza, Geita and Mara," she said.
The Medical Credit Fund was launched in 2009 and managed by PharmAccess, a Dutch non-profit organization that addresses critical issue by providing affordable loans at competitive interest rates. It is currently active in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania.
The objective of the fund is to improve access to affordable quality health care by providing access to finance for private African health care providers who cannot afford and access regular credit schemes.
Ms Njau said that since the establishment of the fund, the response from health facilities had been somewhat encouraging and hopes that in future more facilities will take advantage of the fund.
Citing some of the benefits of the fund, she said that through the training of the administrative officers, the quality of these health facilities is improved which is good for the patients, but most importantly doctors who lack entrepreneurial skills were now able to keep their records.
The APHFTA Finance Officer, Mr Denis Mosha, said that the training had been very beneficial to owners of the facilities in them acquiring bookkeeping skills and many had now managed to open up their bank accounts. "In the course of training health personnel, we discovered that many operated not as a businesses because they lacked bookkeeping skills, failed to do proper documentation and didn't even know how to pay their own salaries," he said.
Mr Mosha said that access to the medical credit fund was being hampered by the fact that many health facilities operated without legal registration from the Business Registrations & Licensing Agency (BRELA).
He also said that many facilities wrongly take access to loans as free grants and often not prepared to pay the interest rates being charged by partnering banks like NMB which charges 17 per cent and BancABC that charges 18 per cent.
The financial officer said that another challenge that faced the health facilities includes failure to meet loan requirements as they lack proper documents and resistance by those operating under an umbrella with the misconception that receiving the funds is a violation to their constitution.
The Tanzania PharmAccess Foundation Programme Director, Mr Geert Haverkamp, said APHFTA being the implementer of the fund had a big challenge of ensuring more private facilities get access. Mr Haverkamp said that at the moment there were close to 550 members of the association yet only about 100 had been reached.