11 January 2013

Tanzania: Misuse of CHF Funds Stifles Rural Health Service Delivery

MISAPPROPRIATION of funds being distributed to district councils through the Community Health Fund (CHF) is to blame for poor health services in rural areas, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Director General, Mr Emmanuel Humba, has said.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Mr Humba noted that the fund was tired of hearing people crying foul over poor health services whereas huge sums of money were being distributed. Mr Humba was briefing journalists on the fund's plans to send a team of journalists to various rural areas to research on the situation of CHF especially on the uses of funds distributed to those areas.

He said that the findings of the survey which is expected to be done late this month will be presented in a workshop of editors from various media houses next month, where various officials in the health sector are expected to attend. A printout of a payment sheet showing amounts of money distributed to various regions in the first quarter of the 2012/2013 financial year shows that over 25.1bn/- have so far been distributed through CHF.

Such monies are intended to be spent in procuring medical equipment, improve medical facilities as well as purchasing drugs. "We have a feeling that monies that we distribute to various districts are misused because had it been spent for the intended purposes there would not be shortage of medicines," he said.

Mr Humba noted further that there was need to carry out research in a bid to find out issues behind the scene. "We need the monies to be spent well and benefit all the people equally. We also need transparency in spending monies obtained through CHF," he said.

Mr Humba said that without a strong health fund in the country health services especially to poor people would be difficult to obtain and many would die from treatable diseases. "Societies have no cultures to save for their health and in fact some people have a feeling that doing so is an act of wishing self misfortune.

It is therefore through health funds that poor and rich members of the community can be sure of accessing health services," he said. The NHIF Director of Marketing and Research Development, Mr Raphael Mwamoto, noted that preliminary surveys by the fund shows that in some areas CHF monies have been spent on fuel instead of buying medicines.

He said it was disturbing to note that billions of shillings have been spent in improving the health services in rural areas through the CHF but less has been done.

Although prepayment through CHF is being hailed internationally as part of a solution to health care financing problems in low-income countries, mismanagement of funds seems to be a thorny issue in smooth undertaking of the scheme in question.

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