Health budget to improve mental health, specialised medical services

Health budget to improve mental health, specialised medical services

ZANZIBAR plans to construct a new mental illness hospital at Pemba's Kinyasini suburb and introduce the national centre of excellence for superspecialised medical services.

Health Minister Nassor Ahmed Mazrui told the House of Representatives here yesterday that the ministry as well plans to establish the national safe blood centre and massively renovate Wete hospital.

Moving the ministry's 2022/2023 budget estimates, Minister Mazrui informed the house of the plans to initiate and ensure all levels of service delivery observe the ministry's certified guidelines and national standards.

The minister said under the curative programme, the ministry will spend over 90bn/- or 58.7 per cent of the 154bn/- total budget to fund curative services and projects.

Besides the construction of industries for the manufacture of medicines and medical devices, the ministry will as well introduce special health service programme for tourists.

Minister Nassor told the house that Zanzibar has 7,721 people—2,241 males and 4,944 females—living with HIV/AIDS, with 7,111 of them or 99 per cent of all victims taking Antiretroviral (ARVs).

Between July 2021 and March, 2022, a total of 252,807 people—138,625 females and 114,182 males tested for HIV/AIDS, with 1,759 or 0.6 per cent of them—1,180 females and 579 males—testing positive.

However, 7,721 people—5,318 females and 2,403 males—living with HIV/AIDS are on the Antiretroviral (ARVs) at 14 clinics at Unguja (10) and Pemba (four).

The minister said 35,007 pregnant women attended antenatal clinics for the first time and tested for HIV/AIDS, with 263 or 0.7 per cent of them testing positive. They were all introduced to ARVs.

During the period, 101 infants born with HIV-positive mothers were tested and eight of them were positive

The minister said 22,686 people—18,964 females and 3,726 males tested for hepatitis B, with 241 of them—89 females and 152 males—testing positive in Unguja and Pemba.

Minister Mazrui further said 8,241 islanders—2,979 females and 5,262 males tested for hepatitis C, with 34 or 0.2 per cent of them testing positive. There were also 1,090 tuberculosis patients in Unguja and Pemba.

He said plans are underway to spend over 34bn/-, which accounts for 22.3 per cent of the entire budget on preventive and health awareness services.

Under the programme, the ministry intends to enhance capacity and readiness to fight disease outbreaks and health calamities; and boost primary health service delivery at the district levels.

On malaria situation in the country, the minister said 636,131 people—550,752 in Unguja and 85,379 in Pemba—attended various hospitals and health centres during the July 2021—March 2022 period, with 2,780 patients testing positive to the deadly disease.

Areas with many malaria cases were identified as Urban B District, followed by Urban district in Urban West region, with Pemba's Mkoani District ranked with the lowest rate of infections.

The House Committee on Social Welfare decried acute shortage of manpower and medical devices in many hospitals in the country, challenging the government to address the problem.

The Committee Chairman, Mr Mohamed Ahmada Salum asked the government to allocate sufficient fund to Mnazi Mmoja hospital, the country's referral facility to improve services to wananchi.

Author: MASATO MASATO in Zanzibar

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