MASSIVE investments in the county’s health sector have continued to enhance availability of specialised services, while positioning Tanzania as a healthcare hub for medical tourism.
From the onset, and in line with the ruling CCM’s 2020/2025 Election Manifesto, President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s Sixth Phase Government laid bare that people’s health will be among priorities of the government.
And, the government’s commitment is vindicated thanks to the introduction of quality health services, which has cut down the number of Tanzanians seeking overseas treatment by more than 95 per cent, while attracting patients from other neighbouring countries.
In fact, the government continues to implement health infrastructure projects in a continued effort to improve access to quality health care to the people of Tanzania.
One of such strategic projects is the ongoing expansion of Dodoma-based Benjamin Mkapa Hospital (BMH) with the view of making this state-of-art facility the national referral hospital by 2025.
According to the Executive Director of the BMH, Dr Alphonce Chandika, they are currently putting up another two-storey building that will house Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and Nuclear Medicine Fertility and wards to add beds capacity after building its own medical oxygen plant.
Dr Chandika said construction works, which kicked off on June this year, are carried out by the Dar es Salaam-based Mohammed Builders Limited under the consultancy of the Tanzania Building Agency (TBA).
He said the three-year construction project worth 28bn/- will be completed by June 2025. The facility is expected to relieve the burden of cancer patients to travel to the current national referral cancer facility, Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam.
BMH, which was established in 2015, remains the only health facility in the country to perform kidney transplant by using its very own local medics.
While highlighting achievements of one year of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, early last year, Dr Chandika said the hospital had acquired 2bn/- from the government to commence the construction project.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to President Samia for earmarking 2bn/- for BMH during her one year in office. The fund is meant to start putting up the new building,” said the Hospital’s Executive Director.
Upon completion of the project, cancer patients from the Central Zone regions and neighbouring regions will not have to travel all the way to Dar es Salaam for medication.
According to Dr Chandika, the BMH came up with the idea to put up its own medical oxygen plant due to Covid-19 challenges.
He said the use of medical oxygen had increased from 200 oxygen cylinders per month to 200 oxygen cylinders per day and increased the cost from 10m/- per month to 10m/- per day just for medical oxygen.
Dr Chandika said the project involves purchase of the truck to carry oxygen cylinders to supply to other health facilities countrywide and installment of the oxygen plant near the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital.
Health Minister, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, said she would ensure the BMH attained status of the second national hospital by 2025, noting she had never received any complaint about the BMH services.
“Since the hospital is located in the country’s capital city, I will ensure the BMH attains the status of the second national referral hospital by 2025. I’ve never received any complaint about its services,” she said while unveiling the medical oxygen plant.
According to Ms Mwalimu, the BMH will also have a Cardiac Centre in order to reduce the burden to patients who are forced to travel all the way to Dar es Salaam to access the service to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI).
She also said the government was committed to seeing orthopaedic and neurological service available at BMH which she said was performing a wonderful job compared to other zonal hospitals countrywide.
BMH has also established a special wing for Executive Clinic geared towards serving VIPs, enabling them to easily get access to medication and go back to serve the people. Under the Executive Clinic, all services are available.
The facility, which is located on the second floor of the main BMH building, provides the VIP with the ultimate customised healthcare experience.
BMH has also established its own blood bank to serve the Central Zone Referral Hospital.
Scores of Dodoma residents are delighted with the government’s plans to expand and elevate Benjamin Mkapa Hospital to become the national referral hospital by 2025.
They told the `Daily News’ in separate interviews that the 400-bed capacity BMH deserves to become the second national referral hospital after Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) due to its geographical location at the centre of the country, quality healthcare service delivery and facilities to be available after the ongoing expansion work.
“It is a very good plan by the government because the hospital is located in the centre of the country and hence it will be easier for people from all corners of the country to reach here,” said Josel Kissima, a resident of Maili Mbili in Dodoma.
Another resident of Mlowa Bwawani in Chamwino, Mr Geofrey Kaseko is equally excited with the government’s plans to upgrade BMH to national referral hospital, noting that the hospital has been offering quality healthcare services.
“Healthcare delivery at BMH is superb. They receive patients well and give them quality healthcare service timely,” said Mr Kaseko.
Ms Rahma Juma of Kondoa, hailed the BMH for good services and called for other hospitals to emulate it. “BMH offers its services to patients well. They receive and give treatment to patients well.”
Mr Abraham Msangi of Kibeja in Gairo, Morogoro, insisted that BMH deserves to become the second national hospital based on its ideal services, saying the BMH offers perfect services to patients.
The government is investing in the development of healthcare infrastructure to improve access to quality health care to wananchi as among a set of priorities outlined in the ruling CCM’s Election Manifesto and the 3rd Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP III) 2021/22- 2025/26, as well as the Development Vision 2025.
The FYDP III identifies the health sector as a key driver to human development. The sector includes infrastructure, professionals, medical equipment and supplies, reagents, medicines, curative and preventive care, and health insurance.
Therefore, FYDP III seeks to strengthen health management systems, service availability and delivery. The plan also prioritises the resolution of quality challenges in health service.
Key interventions in the plan include to construct and rehabilitate inclusive health facilities, ensure availability of medicine, medical supplies, reagents, vaccine and pharmaceutical equipment, promote and increase scope, as well as coverage of health insurance schemes and strengthen specialised and super-specialised services in all zonal, specialised and national referral hospitals.
Other interventions are to improve traditional health services/alternative medicines, promote and support establishment of vaccines, medicines and medical equipment manufacturing industries, promote and support private sector investment in health commodity supply chain, design and establish proper logistics and storage of medical commodities, strengthen public health rapid response teams and improve Emergency Medical Services (EMS).