DISEASE is one of the three critical problems with which the government of newly independent Tanganyika way back in 1961 made an earnest resolve to tackle, the others being poverty and ignorance .
The government had set itself a huge task, considering that, the newly independent country was poor. We must remind ourselves, though, that the poverty aspect was largely a controversial concept.
For Tanganyika, which subsequently became Tanzania upon the Mainland entity and the combination of Zanzibar and Pemba islands uniting to produce a union, was and remains a host of immense natural resources.
The combination of most of the resources being either siphoned off, mismanaged, or the country being financially under-resourced to exploit them meaningfully, our country’s economic and social progress was pretty toughgoing.
But progress has nonetheless been registered over the years, part of it being facilitated by fixing problems that have been the source of our slowmotion movements.
Over the years, however, it has become apparent that some of the problems have been generated by inadequate patriotic spirit amongst some of our compatriots.
One of the glaring examples lies in State-owned and State-run firms that were underperforming and subsequently collapsed, not due to lack of potential, but due to negative tendencies like looting and mismanagement.
On the medical front, the government reasons that, private and public services can operate side-by-side. It is disturbing, however, that the private sphere has some elements that are driven more by financial gain than service provision.
Granted, private hospitals are not charitable institutions. They have a wide range of financial commitments that they can meet only by charging patients for services they give.
However, they are not expected to operate in absolute private company fashion, considering that their mission is to ease the pain of patients tortured by a wide range of diseases and indeed to save lives.
That is the backdrop against which the recent warning issued by sector Minister, Ummy Mwalimu against private hospitals that exploit patients and the emphasis she laid on them to adhere to professional ethics should be viewed.
Her reaction was prompted by complaints over compulsory Unitary Tract Infection (UTI) tests, as a money-making ploy by some of the facilities.
The warning must be heeded, since, for hospitals, the emphasis should be on service; not profit.