MINISTER of State in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG), Mr Innocent Bashungwa, has stressed on the need for close working relations with religious institutions that offer health services.
Opening the 85th Annual General Meeting of the Tanzania Christian Medical Association (TCMA), Minister Bashungwa also said it is important for the regional medical officers (RMOs) and council’s executive directors to work as a team to improve health services.
He said the government advocates for cooperation between the public and private sector in health services, thus, teamwork was of paramount importance.
The minister’s call followed a statement made by the TCMA President Dr Paul Kisanga, who said some councils were not in good terms with health centres owned by religious institutions.
Dr Kisanga said most of the health facilities belonging to religious institutions are located in areas where public health facilities are not available, but surprisingly they have been facing hurdles in their operations.
Minister Bashungwa instructed the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Prof Riziki Shemdoe, to ensure there is improved communication and relationship between the two parties especially in rural areas where the religious health centres are important.
“We must improve this partnership. I respect the contribution of the TCMA in providing health services to our people,” he expressed.
Minister Bashungwa noted that the government has been making efforts to improve the health sector in collaboration with religious institutions whereby in the period from 2021-2022 it has spent more than 383bn/- on construction of 564 clinics, 304 health centres and hospitals in 68 districts.
He added that during that fiscal year, 103.09bn/- has been used for the purchase of medical equipment in clinics, health centres and hospitals at the district level.
Bashungwa expressed that in this financial year, the government has allocated 69.9bn/- to procure more medical equipment as a step to improve the health sector.
Earlier, Dr Kisanga stated that the aim of the meeting was to discuss how to improve health services and promote cooperation between doctors and service providers as well as exchange ideas and find ways to solve service delivery problems.
“This year’s theme is based on reforms in hospitals under faith-based organizations to address financial sustainability of health services, we have focused on the improvements of church hospitals in the provision of health services and access to sustainable financial resources,” he expressed.
He pointed out that many hospitals under religious organisations are located in rural areas where a huge population of Tanzanians, who hardly afford paying for medical bills, lives.
“We are aware that the Government appreciates the contribution of the church, the church has been running more than 900 health care centres including 105 hospitals out of which five are at the regional level,” he said.
Dr Kisanga stated that 12 hospitals have referral services at the regional level and 37 are used as district hospitals.
He said the TCMA has 134 health centres, however, the demand was very high.
On his side, the Executive Director of the Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC), Peter Maduki, assured Minister Bashingwa of the cooperation between the commissions with the government.
“Let me assure you that we (CSSC) are ready to work with the Government and we have been considering the CCM’s election manifesto,” Mr Maduki.