Ms Ummy Mwalimu, the Tanzania’s Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children has appealed to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to consider investing in the pharmaceutical industry and especially in essential drugs so as to improve health services in the country.
She gave the advice when she presided over the inauguration of the new NHIF board of directors led by Ms Anne Makinda, formerly the Speaker of the National Assembly, adding that the investment will help reduce complaints from the members, boost employment and cut on spending for buying medical drugs abroad.
“You should bring to us some suggestions. We will place a conducive environment to be effective and for us in the health sector. Tanzania heads for industries including pharmaceutical industries”, she said.
She also appealed to the new board of directors to come up with policies and guidelines that will enable the NHIF management to implement its tasks quickly and efficiently. “We recognize that access to better medical care especially for ordinary citizens include access to medical drugs 80 per cent of which we import from abroad.
Several research findings have shown that the general public feel they are satisfied with the medical care provided, where they have access to medication”, Ms Mwalimu noted. “The objective of the Fund ahead of you is to provide health services by 50 per cent or more of the Tanzanian population by 2020.
Currently we have reached 28 per cent and that is not bad. However, you can see that there is much work ahead of you”, Ms Mwalimu said. The minister said that considering the importance of this service, “Our ministry has taken various steps. For instance we’ve added enough money in our budget for drugs for the fiscal year 2016/17 amounting to 251.5bn/-.
This kind of allocation has never been made since independence. On his part, the NHIF Board of Directors, former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Anne Makinda noted that after being appointed by President John Magufuli to be chairperson of NHIF Board of Directors, the president still trusts that she can make contribution in this important sector through NHIF.
The Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Mr Michael John, assured the NHIF management that his ministry would continue to provide all kinds of cooperation with the board of directors in a bid to solve the problems in the health sector.
The new board of directors appointed by Minister Ummy Mwalimu which commenced its objectives effectively on June 1, this year, include Dr Doroth Gwajima, Lydia Choma, Yahya Msulwa, Dr Kaushik Ramaiya, Tryphon Rutazamba and Dr Bughayo Abdallah Saqware.