The Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) is on a mission to establish a special fund to be contributed by development partners, health stakeholders and well-wishers, an initiative that will enable the foundation to continue improving provision of health services in the country.
The initiative is being done as the nation marks the first anniversary of the late third phase President Benjamin Mkapa, who passed away on July 24th last year at the age of 81.
The move is aimed at reaching more people with improved health services especially those in the hard to reach areas as well as continuing to improve health infrastructures at all levels.
The foundation's Head of Health System Strengthening Unit Hendry Samky said in an interview with this newspaper that on July 14th this year there will be a special event for remembrance of the late Mkapa which has been organised to honour his legacy.
"We are grateful for the wise decisions by the late Mkapa to establish this foundation; his principles of transparency and good governance resulted in the country's development in almost all the sectors including health. As we celebrate his first anniversary, we will continue to live his spirits and harness all the good things he was doing," he said.
He said the foundation has, for many years, been engaging itself in providing capacity building training to health personnel at all levels and undertaking and implementing multiple projects that have positively improved and impacted the health sector in both Mainland and Zanzibar.
He said the foundation has so far constructed 482 houses for health workers in the health sector and built capacity to 326 health supervising committees in 22 district councils. It has also employed a total of 3,760 health workers serving at dispensary, health centre and regional hospital level across the country.
The government has however commended the foundation for its job well done, promising to continue working closely with it in planning and strategising on how to further improve health services in the country.
Assistant Director, Human Resource Planning in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Martin Mapunda said: "The foundation has been of great support to the country's health sector; it has employed a number of health workers at various cadres as well as improving infrastructures." Mapunda added that the late Mkapa will be remembered for his transparency and good governance principles and championing revolution in the health sector.
Dr Mack fallen Anasel, Head of Department of Health Systems Management at Mzumbe University said that decisions by the BMF to work with higher learning institutions would facilitate improvement of service provision as the university conducts research and builds the capacity of human resources.
He said the university assists the foundation in finding proper statistics to ensure that decisions made are based on reality. According to Dr Anasel, despite efforts by the government and stakeholders such as BMF in increasing the number of health workers, the shortage of servants in the sector is between 50 and 60 percent. Nakaunda Mangosongo, the Assistant Director (Human Capital Management) in the President's Office Regional Administration and Local Government said: "We are proud of the foundation's support in the health sector, especially in employing workers at all levels. The foundation is one of the important stakeholders in providing health services."
Mangosongo asserted that the government continues to employ health workers in different cadres to reduce the current gap whereas it has recently employed a good number of servants in the health and education sectors.
The foundation has for 15 years worked closely with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children and the Prime Minister's Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PMORALG) to address various challenges in the health sector.
It has expanded its scope of activities from HIV/Aids to start supporting efforts to combat malaria, Tuberculosis (TB) prevention and curing initiatives, maternal health (prevention of maternal and infant mortality rates) and provision of reproductive health education to youth so that they able to avoid early pregnancies.