Tanzania: Poor Healthcare Services Alarm Zanzibar Govt

Second Vice-President, Mr Hemed Suleiman Abdalla has raised concern over inefficiency of public facilities which is linked to bureaucracy in medical supplies, shortage of staff and prolonged delays in settling employees' entitlements.

He said there was no justification for the shortage of some essential medicines in hospitals because it is available in central medical stores, and that only the supply chain has been poor due to uncalled-for bureaucracy.

Speaking after his inspection visit at Micheweni Hospital in North Pemba, the Second Vice President also said that the hospitals owe their workers unpaid allowances and a big shortage of staff has frustrated medical staff, leading to inefficiency.

Mr Abdalla directed the administration of the Ministry of Health, Social Welfare, Gender and Children, through its 'Medical Stores' to ensure smooth supplies of the available medical equipment and medicines so that there is no shortage in public hospitals.

"The Health Ministry Management should also pay the debt they owe workers who have been complaining against delays in allowance payment. We need to clear the way for better provision of medical care," Mr Abdalla said.

He warned executives and civil servants that there was no room for laziness and laxity in the current government, urging them to change and comply with directives from top leaders, including the issue of employing new staff to fill or narrow the existing gaps to improve services in hospitals caused by shortage of medical workers.

The second vice president said that there are employable graduates in the medical field who remain idle on streets, "Find ways of recruiting them so that we have enough skilled workers in public hospitals. Some sections of the hospital, such as clinical labs, surgery and pediatric wards have been overwhelmed with patients because of shortage of staff."

Dr Mbwana Hamad Shoka- medical superintendent at Micheweni hospital, said that despite the mentioned challenges, services at the facility have improved, including child and mother care which has led to decrease of maternal and child mortality.

The second vice president's fresh orders came hardly a fortnight after President Hussein Ali Mwinyi expressed concern over poor services at Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital, and issued a three-month ultimatum to the health facility management to rectify the anomaly.

"Sincerely, I have been upset, this situation will never be left to persist," President Mwinyi fumed during his impromptu tour of the facility. He accused the hospital management of laxity, charging that many of the problems that haunt the facility were purely managerial.

Dr Mwinyi wondered why for instance the hospital, which has received over 3.1bn/- in the past two months, is facing acute shortage of medicine, laboratory equipment and other essential medical supplies and services.

"Before coming here, I checked to see the amount of money that had been disbursed to this hospital ...you received 1.1bn/- in August and 2bn/- in September. Yet, the hospital has no medicines, this is unacceptable," Dr Mwinyi said.

Dr Mwinyi on the same day revoked the appointment of Director General of the Ministry of Health, Dr Jamala Taib, and the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital Chief Medical Superintendent, Dr Ali Salum Ali, saying they will be given other assignments as par their qualifications.

He further decried corruption, which he said was rife in the national hospital, vowing to mercilessly deal with the dishonest medical professionals. He also reprimanded some medics who are accused of being rude to patients, directing all employees to have visibly displayed badges with their names and be friendly to hospital 'customers.'

The president toured the hospital's various departments, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging, X-Ray, Outpatient and Oxygen manufacturing, which he found in massive operational problems.

Winding his brief tour, the president pledged to return to the country's main health facility specifically to talk to employees and hear their challenges and problems.

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