Tanzania: Zanzibar Govt to Overhaul Health Sector

ZANZIBAR is set to have modern health facilities offering the best medical services to its citizens and tourists at district, regional and national level, should the ongoing plans bear fruits following financial assurance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"The architectural work (designing) for the project has been completed ... We are now looking for qualified contractors for the work. Whoever will be granted the job, should bear-in-mind that it is an exigent project. We want it complete by the end of June next year," Mr Nassor Ahmed Mazrui- Minister of Health, Social Welfare, Elders, Gender and Children said in a meeting with journalists here.

He said each of the ten districts will have a modern hospital, and a hospital in every five regions in addition to the construction of a new hospital at Lumumba area in Zanzibar city.

The minister added that Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital in the Stone Town and Abdalla-Mzee Hospital in Mkoani, South Pemba will also undergo major refurbishment.

"Since the funds are available, we need not waste time. Construction should begin next month. More than 69bn/- has been allocated for the huge health facilities' improvement project that will take Zanzibar to another level of advanced medical services," Mazrui said.

He said that modern ambulances, MRI, CT/Scan, X-ray, ICU, ultrasound, blood bank, dental treatment equipment, medicines/equipment supply vehicles, modern maternal and pediatric wards, e-health, 'Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)' services and theaters among other medical equipment are earmarked for major improvement.

Various executives from the ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) liaison officer were in attendance when the Minister said that people in Zanzibar should expect to see huge improvement of the health sector in the near future under the leadership of President Hussein Ali Mwinyi, as he thanked IMF and Union President Samia Suluhu Hassan for backing the IMF loan to Zanzibar.

"The past government under retired President Ali Mohamed Shein had similar plans to improve the health system in Zanzibar, but it was unfortunate that soliciting funds for the project was not successful. But now we have been lucky to have the package from IMF," Mazrui said.

Talking about the current shortage of medical personnel in the Islands and sustainability of funding in running the hospitals, he said WHO is currently supporting a study to find out the required medical workers so that the gap can be narrowed by hiring and training so that the expected health facilities operate effectively.

He said plans are underway to introduce health insurance early next year, "Expected to be one of the sources of income to run the health services in the country with rising population. We will also think about other sources of income to help sustainability of the standard medical services in both urban and rural areas, a move that will also enable Zanzibar to get closer to medical tourism."

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