Massive investment transforms health sector

DAR ES SALAAM: TANZANIANS are enjoying significantly improved health care services thanks to government massive investment that have transformed the sector.

The Deputy Minister for Health, Godwin Mollel, told reporters in Dar es Salaam on Monday that 128 emergency buildings have been built and 199 digital X-rays facilities have been purchased for hospitals countrywide in about two years.

Highlight achievements recorded in the health sector and the importance of the health insurance scheme, specifically the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), he said during the period 78 buildings for an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) have been set up at the national, regional and district level.

The investment is part of 6.7tri/- which the government under President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan has injected into the sector for improvement of the healthcare infrastructures, medical devices and human resources, he said.

The sixth-phase government allocated 2.1tri/- for the health sector in the 2021/22 fiscal year and the following year in 2022/23, it allocated 2.2tri/-, while in this financial year, it has allocated 2.4tri/-, hence, making a total of 6.7tri/-.

He said a process was underway to connect all regional and referral hospitals countrywide to the telemedicine system.

The move is to make the modern medical equipment that the government has purchased and installed in the hospitals meaningful.

It would be useful when those purchased high-tech medical facilities in hospitals such as CT-Scan and MRI machines are integrated in the telemedicine system so that specialist doctors, who are based at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) could read the MRI, CT-Scan and digital X-Ray images taken at regional hospitals for further consultations.

“This huge investment has enabled accessibility of medical testing close to the people. In the past, MRI and CT-Scan services were available at the Muhimbili National Hospital only, hence forcing patients to incur transport costs to seek services in Dar es Salaam,” he said.

Going further in explaining the strides made in the purchase of modern medical equipment, Dr Mollel said the government has already paid for importation of 727 new ambulances to be distributed to all hospitals.

“When these vehicles arrive, each district hospital is assured of getting an ambulance,” he said.

He added that the government has ensured that the MRI services are available in each zonal hospital.

Dr Mollel pointed out that a significant step has been made in improving services at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) where a new PET-CT scan is currently at final stages of installation.

The ORCI has also acquired a linear accelerator, also referred to as LINAC,  a machine that aims radiation at cancer tumours with pinpoint accuracy, sparing nearby healthy tissue.

It’s used to deliver several types of external beam radiation therapy.

“This has made patients not seek such service abroad where it is costly compared to here,” he stated.

So far, 97 per cent of patients get treatment within the country, while only three per cent seek services abroad.

Detailing about health infrastructures, he said, the government has built several new buildings, including maternal ward at Mbeya Zonal Hospital, Southern Zonal hospital, Mara Regional Hospital, Chato Zonal Hospital, Manyara Referral Hospital and Njombe Regional Referral Hospital.

Therefore, he argued, to make the health sector improvements sustainable there was a need for strengthened health insurance schemes.

“There should be a strong financing system that would guarantee maintenance of the equipment. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is the way to go,’ he stated.

He said in order for people to benefit from the investment made in health infrastructures and equipment, health financing should be done through the UHC through which Tanzanians could help each other in covering treatment costs by contributions.

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