Why we need to insure ourselves against sickness


TIME was when the cost of health was zero.

You got sick, walked into hospital and got treated. Period. But times have changed and the government can no longer afford to pay for everyone of us.

The same applies to education where we share costs. The best way we can ensure every Tanzanian has access to health services is through insurance; it’s not costly if we were to figure out the cost of death.

That’s why we applaud the counsel from Muleba District, Engineer Richard Runyango, who urged Tanzanians to join the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and seize the opportunity to test their health status.

The NIHF costs just 76,800/- per head, which enables someone to get treatment throughout a given a year. That’s a bargain, as the saying goes.

In particular, parents and guardians are advised to register their children and students aged below eight, under the Toto Afya Card for only 50,000/-. But the NIHF officials have a crucial role to play in educating the general public on the need to insure themselves against sickness.

A sage once said that the price of health could well be the cost of life if we don’t act in time. It’s a saying well meant for non-communicable diseases in particular – which we are told now accounted for 27 per cent for all mortality in 2008.

Cancers, non-communicable variants of respiratory diseases and diabetes, accounted for three per cent, according to recent records. Without health insurance cover, we stand no chance.

The State has envisaged a registration tipping 75,000 traditional healers and sellers of herbal cures. But only 1,000 have so far come out of their lairs. This is an incredible scenario. It has been determined that some healers hide their faces from visiting registration officials. People who consult healers come from all walks of life.

They include prominent business people, politicians, educationists, clerics, law enforcers, students, peasants and even trained medical workers. The list is difficult to close. These healers have been using rituals and herbal remedies to treat the sick for generations.

A number of their medicinal herbs seem to be effective where modern medical science has failed to find a cure. Some defeat tough medical conditions such as epilepsy. Nevertheless, healers cannot beat professional medics.

As disease incidence grows, insurance becomes the prime cost of life. Act wisely, insure yourself.

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