Allocate funds for health workers capacity building – Minister

TANGA: HEALTH Minister Ummy Mwalimu has asked all nongovernmental organisations working in the health sector to allocate at least 10 per cent of their budgets to human resource recruitment, saying that is a critical area in complementing government efforts to health service provision to communities.

The minister, who also serves as Tanga Urban legislator, was responding to a statement made by the Director of Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS), Dr Redempta Mbatia, who reported that the organisation that is implementing the ‘Afya Hatua’ Project in the region since October of last year has hired a total of 658 staff.

She was speaking at a ceremony held at Tanga Regional Referral Hospital grounds to hand over various equipment meant to enhance efficiency of providing person-centred comprehensive HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in the Tanga region under the Afya Hatua initiative.

The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief funds the project through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The equipment include 50 motorcycles, 56 centrifuges, 72 laboratory refrigerators, 50 desktop computers, 50 Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units, and 50 printers valued at 800m/- (313,520 US dollar).

Ms Mwalimu pointed out that health was one of the few sectors where the Ministry of Health was granted permission to hire employees.

However, she said the government does not have enough funding to hire enough personnel to meet the sector’s demand. “It is of critical importance if all NGOs working in the sector allocate at least 10 per cent of their budgets for recruitment of staff on contract basis who will receive first priority when the government releases funds for recruitment of staff,” she said.

Speaking regarding the equipment, the minister expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the American people on behalf of the government for their great support in HIV epidemic containment and life-saving efforts through the CDC and THPS.

“I would like to assure CDC and THPS that the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania will continue providing you with the necessary cooperation in implementing these lifesaving programmes,” she added.

She explained that laboratory refrigerators and centrifuges will facilitate efficient and reliable testing by allowing blood and sputum samples to be processed and stored at supported facilities before being transported to testing laboratories.

She added that the printers, laptops, and UPSs will help to smoothen delivery and reporting on HIV preventative care and treatment services at the funded facilities, all of which contribute to the goal of attaining HIV pandemic control.

The motorcycles will be delivered to the healthcare and treatment clinics with a high patient volume to facilitate community based services, such as sample transportation to testing laboratories.

Ms Mwalimu said THPS has realised the importance of providing motorbikes to community clients in need of HIV prevention, testing, care, and treatment services, such as tracing care recipients who discontinue treatment and reaching hard-to-reach groups.

Dr Redempta Mbatia, Executive Director at THPS, noted at the handover event that THPS is committed to continuing to sup port the government’s efforts to ensure that all Tanzanians have access to person-centered, quality healthcare and actively contribute to the country’s socioeconomic development.

“We trust that the support we have provided will go a long way in improving the efficiency and ensuring quality of service delivery for comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment services in Tanga region as we all aim to attain HIV epidemic control by 2030,” she added.

Dr George Mgomella, Associate Director for Programmes at the CDC at the US Embassy in Tanzania, acknowledged and congratulated the Tanzanian government on their tireless efforts to combat HIV in Tanga and other regions.

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