Govt: We will not abandon iCHF over UHI implementation

THE government yesterday clarified that even though the country will introduce the Universal Health Insurance (UHI), the Improved Community Health Fund (iCHF) will not be abandoned, but rather strengthened.
“The iCHF will not be abandoned. We are going to embrace what the iCHF was doing,” Health Deputy Permanent Secretary Grace Magembe stated.
She was speaking in Dar es Salaam at the 9th Tanzania Health Summit during a breakout session to discuss Health Promotion and System Strengthening (HPSS) Tuimarishe Afya Project.
Dr Magembe noted that it was concern from not only partners but also common citizens over the existence of the iCHF upon the introduction of the UHI.
She called upon the participants to give their opinions on how best to incorporate the iCHF into the envisaged UHI whose Bill was recently read for the first time in the Parliament.
She said there was still a long way to go regarding creating awareness among the members of the public about the UHI, calling for continued collaboration between the government and stakeholders.
The HPSS Tuimarishe Afya project IS a Swiss-Tanzania Cooperation Project, funded by the Swiss Government and implemented by Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.
In his presentation, Project Manager Ally Kebby said among the successes of the project was contributing inputs into designing of the iCHF.
Mr Kebby explained that the iCHF’s original goals have largely been achieved.
Among other achievements, they include making health services affordable for the rural population and self-employed (informal sector), and having attractive benefits packages covering also referral services to district and regional level.
A total of 26 regions have in place trained staff for coordination of the community health fund.
Explaining on how the project supports the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) 2021-26, he said it support the ministry of health on the establishment of the National Equipment Calibration and Training Centre. The centre is located at the Mirembe area in the capital city of Dodoma.
The calibration centre will operate to facilitate high level maintenance intervention, provide equipment calibration services and conduct training to maintain personnel and equipment users in order to improve medical equipment management and quality of health services in the country at large.
Meanwhile, Director for Policy and planning at the Health Ministry, Mr Edward Mbanga, said the UHI is expected to start in the next financial year if all goes as planned.
The primary goal was to have all Tanzanians covered to meet health services expenses regardless of their financial status when seeking treatment, Mr Mbaga said when speaking during media workshop on the UHI in Dar es Salaam.
For her part, Ms Jovina Kibambo a member of the UHI secretariat said the UHI Bill has come at a time when the government has constructed more than 10,000 health facilities including hospitals, health centers and dispensaries.
“Only 15 percent of Tanzanians are covered with insurance schemes offered by different services providers. UHI bill comes to ensure that the remaining 85 percent are covered to have citizens assured of getting treatment and guarantee a healthy population,” she said.
The Commissioner of insurance from Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority, Dr Baghayo Saqware, assured that the authority is well organized to carry out regulatory work upon the introduction of the UHI.

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