THE National Social Security Fund (NSSF) launched recently a welfare scheme for Tanzanians in the diaspora (WESTADI) in the United Kingdom (UK).
This is part of a special coverage scheme for NSSF members residing, working or studying outside the country. Considering that not everyone has means to care for themselves well, especially during sickness or death, this scheme is beneficial to NSSF members in the diaspora (people living outside the country).
Speaking during the launch of WESTADI at Wembley Park in London, the NSSF Director General, Dr Ramadhan Dau, said the scheme covers active members and four dependants selected by the insured person (diaspora) for social health insurance benefits (SHIB) in Tanzania.
The four dependants must be below 18 years old or 21 years if they are students. Benefits include free health services, an NSSF member is entitled to receive and if a member happens to be in Tanzania and incurs medical costs, the money will be reimbursed, transfer of the body (in case he or she dies) of an NSSF member from the diaspora to their home country (residence), (including a return ticket for an accompanying person) and burial costs, whether a member chooses to be buried in the diaspora or back home.
The main objective of this scheme is to reduce the burden of NSSF members residing in the diaspora, who had this scheme not been established, would have been required to shoulder all costs on their own. Health benefits concern an NSSF member, who has subscribed to SHIB and these include outpatient and inpatient services.
According to NSSF, the main objective of paying for the transfer of the body of the Diaspora member is to reduce transport costs so that a member doesn't live in financial hardships.
Expounding on WESTADI and how Tanzanians were going to benefit from it, Dr Dau said in order to benefit from this scheme, each member residing in the diaspora would be required to contribute $300 or £175 every year and if it happens that he needs treatment while in the country he would get free medical services. He said a similar scheme had been launched in the US in 2011 and in Canada in 2012.
"The aim is to extend NSSF services and reach out to all members," added Dr Dau. He explained that since the WESTADI was launched in the US, three bodies of Tanzanians (NSSF members) had been flown home for burial.
"It is good to join WESTADI because it reduces the burden of transport and burial costs on family members and friends, whereas if it did not exist the costs would have been shouldered by them," he said.
Subscription to WESTADI is prohibited to people with terminal illnesses and those, who are hospitalised with a life threatening condition until they are deemed to be healthy by doctors.
In the event of a disagreement of burial preference against the choice of the insured person and where he or she has not appointed the spouse as a primary next of kin, NSSF will seek the consent of the spouse as a primary next of kin. However, the final decision on this matter will remain with NSSF.
Speaking during an exclusive interview with the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam last week, Ruth John, a UK student in the 1990s, said she joined NSSF membership for the first time in 2003-2006 and then 2008 to date. She said while studying in the UK, NSSF had not introduced WESTADI.
"This is a very good coverage scheme for NSSF members in the Diaspora. Who knows, one can die while working, studying or living there! So, if the family cannot meet transport and burial costs, it becomes difficult," she said.
She explained that NSSF had been improving its services and "it is encouraging to see arrangements like this one being implemented not only in Tanzania, but also in Europe, Canada and the US."
Meanwhile, Dr Dau urged Tanzanians residing in the UK to prepare themselves to purchase NSSF houses in the Satellite City of Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam, after construction.
The houses are constructed in an area called Dege Eco Village, some 23 kilometres from Magogoni Ferry Market.
Dr Dau said after construction the houses would be sold at between $90,000 and $200,000 and the money would be repaid in 15 years. NSSF is constructing Kigamboni in partnership with Azimio Housing Estate Limited, where NSSF has 45 per cent of the shares and the partner investor owns 55 per cent of the shares.
The project includes, among other things, 7,160 residential units, shopping centres, schools and hospitals. "We have called this area Dege Eco Village because it is environmentally- friendly and 40 per cent of its area is under beaches," said Dr Dau.
On his part, President Jakaya Kikwete has urged Tanzanians to buy houses, while advising NSSF to implement a similar project in Arusha Region.
"I know you can buy houses... I believe that NSSF has put in place a good repayment arrangement within 15 years," said President Kikwete. After completion, Kigamboni City will have 450,000 residents compared to the current one of 45,000.