23 October 2017

Tanzania: Relief to Private Health Outlets in Offing

THE National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has begun processes to review accreditation regulations for health facilities which require them to be on operation for not less than three years.

The NHIF Director General, Dr Bernard Konga told the 'Daily News' that the main objective of the reviewing process was to look at possibilities of reducing the time frame following concerns that it was discouraging private investments in health care service.

"It is a legal requirement but we're looking at possibilities of reviewing it," said Dr Konga in a telephone interview in reaction to complaints from operators of some private health facilities about cumbersome NHIC accreditation procedures.

NHIF accreditation criteria entails that for health facilities to be accredited with NHIF services they need to have an operational experience of not less than 3 years, unless the health facility is at a strategic location.

According to section 9 of the National Health Insurance Fund Act, Cap 395 R.E. 2002, the authority to grant accreditation to health care provider is vested into the Fund's Board of Directors. At the management and operational levels it is bestowed upon Regional Managers assisted by Quality Assurance Officers.

Dr Konga said there have been a few cases where some health facilities were accredited with NHIF services even before they attained three years of operation because the law allows them a room for flexibility.

"We have given accreditation for some with less than three years of experience because the law allows us to do so," he said. He however cautioned it would not be an overnight job as it will involve looking at review "in all its perspectives."

Operators of private dispensaries and hospitals cited NHIF accreditation regulations which require a facility to be on operation for not less than three years as disincentive to investments in the sector by private operators.

Daily News survey established there were concerns that private health outlets may be left out with government's target for attaining universal health care through extension of NHIF insurance to all in the near future. The government is focused on attaining universal health care by providing NHIF health insurance to all citizens in the near future.

The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) is a compulsory Health Insurance Scheme established to ensure accessibility of health care services to all Central Government employees as well as formulating and promulgate policies for sound administration of the scheme.

The Act establishing the Fund was further amended to include private sector institutions, individual members and their respective legal dependents that joined the Fund on voluntary basis.

The Fund's accredited health facilities among others include Public health facilities, Private health facilities and Faith Based Organization (FBO's) which are geographically scattered all over the country.

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