Dar es Salaam — Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu yesterday vowed to downgrade some Health Centres (HCs) to the level of a dispensary for failing to deliver health services to the expected standards.
The minister revealed that the government's plans after receiving a report from a maternal health NGO, Thamini Uhai, which showed a section of the HCs lacked basic amenities to provide maternal and newborn health care.
"When a facility is upgraded to become a HC," she said, "it is expected to provide basic emergency obstetric and newborns care(BEmONC), but according to current reports, it means that the facilities have failed to deliver up to public expectations," she said. This means the facilities at HC level should be able provide blood transfusion, Caesarean section and newborns resuscitation services.
Statistics obtained from the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and the Elderly show that at every 100 HCs in Tanzania, only 12 can provide emergency Caesarian section. Ms Mwalimu said it was the role of her docket to monitor if the facilities were meeting quality standards. She tossed the ball to the regional administration and local government authorities to ensure the facilities were supported with all requisite amenities to meet the standards. According to a representative from the President's Office Regional Administration and Local Government, Dr James Kengia, there is need to set priorities for the allocation of resources so that such health facilities are given priority in the municipal council budget.
He promised he would forward the minster's message on the state of the HCs to the local government authorities for further consideration. .
The Thamini Uhai report states that there is inadequate allocation of financial resources to the HCs and inadequate human resources.
In Kigoma Region, where Thamini Uhai has been providing maternal and newborn health services to complement the government's efforts, a section of the facilities are running without medical doctors.
"In Mabamba and Buhingu, each has one assistant medical officer(AMO) and some newly upgraded health facilities in Kigoma have only one AMO and one anaesthetist... ,inadequate nurses and midwives and some have one nurse-midwife per shift," said the report read by the Thamini Uhai Executive Director, Dr Nguke Mwakatundu.
Since 2008, Thamini Uhai has supported 19 health facilities and 18 dispensaries in three regions - Kigoma, Morogoro and Coast - to save the lives of mothers and newborns.
Dr Mwakatundu pointed out that in order for success stories to continue, there was a need to have timely and adequate allocation for the health service providers and improved distribution of equipment and medical supplies.