Dar eye­ing com­pul­sory uni­ver­sal health­care model

The East African - - NEWS -

By FLO­RIAN KAIJAGE

TAN­ZA­NIA IS work­ing on a model that will help en­sure that ev­ery cit­i­zen en­joys health in­sur­ance. Cur­rently, health in­sur­ance cover is a per­sonal mat­ter.

Deputy Min­is­ter for Health Dr Faus­tine Ndugulile told the that a Bill is be­ing drafted to re­alise the pro­posal. He said the Par­lia­men­tary Stand­ing Com­mit­tee for So­cial Services and Com­mu­nity Development has toured Ghana and Rwanda, which run sim­i­lar schemes in search for a vi­able model.

Rwanda has achieved over 90 per cent health­care cov­er­age whereas Ghana’s stands at over 60 per cent. Tan­za­nia’s is just above 30 per cent.

The deputy min­is­ter said this model will help the gov­ern­ment achieve uni­ver­sal health­care, by mak­ing it manda­tory for ev­ery per­son to be cov­ered by health in­sur­ance services.

Na­tional Health In­sur­ance Fund di­rec­tor gen­eral Bernard Konga said the pro­posal to have a law that obliges ev­ery­one to be un­der health in­sur­ance cover was im­por­tant.

The NHIF has been in­te­grat­ing groups into health in­sur­ance un­der short-term ar­range­ments, such as the Toto Afya Card for chil­dren and univer­sity stu­dents who pay Tsh50,400 ($20) per year.

Sta­tis­tics show that health in­sur­ance in Tan­za­nia cov­ers about 32 per cent of the 54 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion. On the ba­sis of this per­cent­age, Dr Ndugulile sees the im­por­tance of the NHIF and the Com­mu­nity Health Fund (CHF) in de­sign­ing pack­ages to en­able low in­come earn­ers and those in the in­for­mal sec­tor ac­quire in­sur­ance.

But not ev­ery­one is con­vinced. For­mer CHF di­rec­tor Athu­man Re­hani told that he was scep­ti­cal about the nation’s ca­pac­ity to achieve the uni­ver­sal health services.

“Hav­ing a law in place and im­ple­ment­ing it are two dis­tinc­tive mat­ters. The cur­rent bud­get for health sec­tor is less than 10 per cent of the an­nual na­tional bud­get, which is less than the 15 per cent bench­mark, stip­u­lated in the 2001 African Union’s Abuja Dec­la­ra­tion,” he said.

Re­hani cited South Korea as the most suc­cess­ful coun­try in the world that is pro­vid­ing uni­ver­sal health in­sur­ance. How­ever, it the coun­try 35 years to reach 100 per cent cov­er­age.

Pres­i­dents Uhuru Keny­atta (left) and John Magu­fuli ar­rive for the re­treat on in­fra­struc­ture and health fi­nanc­ing at Mun­y­onyo, Uganda.

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