Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

22 February 2013

Tanzania: NHIF to Benefit Low Income Earners

Mtwara — THE National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) is mulling over the introduction of a universal health insurance in order to cover Tanzanians from all walks of life and enable them access health services.

This was revealed here by the Director General of NHIF, Dr Emmanuel Humba, during the 8th Forum of Editors and Journalists on better utilization of health funds through NHIF and the Community Health Fund (CHF), in district councils countrywide.

The forum follows a research conducted in 26 district councils countrywide by journalists from various media outlets on how the councils can make use of health insurance funds to improve health services in the respective districts. "The new cover will enable all Tanzanians, even those in the low income bracket to benefit from health insurance.

There will be an arrangement to ensure that no one is left out," Dr Humba told participants at the meeting. In another development, the NHIF boss hinted that the fund is also considering starting fresh registration of its members and beneficiaries in collaboration with the National Identification Authority (NIDA).

He said through the agreement, the health insurance fund will be able to reduce costs of producing new cards as it will engage NIDA to have some of the information such as finger prints to be shared amongst them.

"With six million beneficiaries of NHIF and Community Health Fund (CHF) countrywide, it would have cost us a lot if we produced the cards on our own, but through collaboration with NIDA, we will save funds that should have been used for the exercise," he explained.

And in a bid to reduce congestion at major hospitals, the NHIF boss has also said it will start registering clinics providing specialized treatment so that NHIF beneficiaries can receive treatment directly from the clinics "There are some complicated cases where patients require specialized handling; it is our dream that these cases be treated at these clinics in the near future," Dr Humba said.

Officiating at the function, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Rashid, urged NHIF to ensure that funds are channeled to buy medicines and other equipment. "There are guidelines which were put in place to ensure that the funds are well utilized to improve health services, some of these guidelines required that 67 per cent of the money is used to buy medicines and equipment," Dr Rashid directed.

He also hoped that findings and recommendations of the study would be forwarded to his ministry so that the government can work on them. The Deputy Minister also challenged editors and journalists to use their profession to identify challenges facing the health sector and advise the government on the best course of action in addressing the challenges.

The two-day forum, which started on Thursday and is set to end here on Friday, has drawn over 80 journalists from all over the country. It is also being attended by Mbeya Regional Commissioner Abbas Kandoro, Mtwara Regional Commissioner, Joseph Simbakalia and other officials from the central and local governments.

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