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Health fund brings relief to Tarime villagers

FAMILIES flock to Gibaso dispensary in Tarime District for second phase registration of Community Health Fund (CHF) scheme under Africare’s LAZHEDI Programme. (File photo)FAMILIES flock to Gibaso dispensary in Tarime District for second phase registration of Community Health Fund (CHF) scheme under Africare’s LAZHEDI Programme. (File photo)

ESTABLISHMENT of Community Health Fund (CHF) scheme has become a big relief to hundreds of poor families in nine rural villages of Tarime District.

The villages are Genkuru, Gibaso, Kewanja, Matongo, Nyakunguru, Nyarwana, Nyangoto , Kerende and Murito. Ms Mariam Mkono, a Special Seats councillor from the beneficiary villages sees CHF as a rare opportunity for low income families. “This is a unique opportunity for our people.

The CHF card can be obtained for as little as15,000/- and the family can use it for treatment of six members in a whole year. This has never happened in the history of our village,” Ms Mariam told the ‘Daily News’ over the weekend.

The government has of late been mobilizing people to register with CHF in order to help them access medical services without difficulties at all times.

Government nurses say establishment of the scheme in the nine villages has also made their work easier as they don’t waste time arguing with patients when it comes to paying for medical services.

“CHF has reduced the burden of tussling with patients on payments. Now they only need to show a CHF card and are attended accordingly,” says Ms Betha Mahemba, a nurse at Gibaso dispensary. In the past, according to the nurse, some people sought treatment while they did not have even a single cent.

“Before CHF was introduced, it was difficult dealing with villagers as they weren’t so sure why they had to pay for medical services,’’ she told the ‘Daily News.’

CHF scheme was introduced in the villages for the first time early last year by Africare through its Lake Zone Health and Economic Development Initiative (LAZHEDI).

Under the programme (LAZHEDI), Africare is enabling most vulnerable families in the villages to access CHF cards by paying 15,000/- each.

“A total of 700 most vulnerable families were since last year been getting health services in any health facility within Tarime District after enrolling them with CHF under LAZEDHI project”, says Mr Stephano Mugeta, the Africare Mara Regional team leader.

Phase two enrollment targeting 700 more low-income households with CHF scheme is underway in the area, according to Mr Mugeta.

The aim is to enrol 1,400 most vulnerable families. Started in October 2011, LAZHEDI is also designed to supplement on-going efforts made by the government on poverty reduction and the war against HIVAIDS, with formation of sustainable economic generating projects and Prevention from Mother- to -Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT) and getting top priorities.

The three- year programme is jointly funded by USAID and African Barrick Gold (ABG). It is targeting five wards around the North Mara Gold Mine, one of Tarime areas rated as having high rate of HIV virus infections. The wards are Matongo, Kemambo, Kibasuka Nyarokoba and Nyamwaga.

Tarime officials estimate that the five wards have more than 77,000 people with majority of them relying on unsustainable subsistence farming and livestock keeping activities (peasants) as the main sources of living, according to Tarime officials. “Under LAZHDI we have two major components.

The clinic deals with health and economic issues,” Mr Mugeta explained. So far, efforts have been made to ensure that HIV positive mothers deliver babies that are free from the virus. A total of 36 Home Based Care Providers(CHBCP) had trained and equipped with working tools such as bicycles and HBC kits to provide services in the villages, according to Mr Mugeta.

“The work of the CHBCP is to provide education at the family level to use the available health facilities as well as monitoring the performance of those found HIV positive and the response is very promising,” Mr Mugeta explains.

Care and Treatment Centres (CTC) have also been established to serve infected persons in some of the public health centres like Gibaso, Kerende, Genkuru, Nyarwana and Nyangoto (Sungusungu).

“There are also mobile CTC’s that provide services to HIV infected people once per month at Nyamwaga and Nyarwana villages”, he says. Introduction of the mobile CTC’s has also helped to discourage people living with HIV virus from not attending clinic.

HIV testing services have also been enhanced in the villages and HIV test kids and other essential items are available at the public health centre 24 hours.

At the same time the health facilities found in the villages are being equipped with effective working equipment with improvement of Reproductive Child Health(RCH) services delivery getting a big consideration under the project.