Z’bar starts implementing compulsory health insurance

ZANZIBAR will from today start implementing the compulsory health insurance to all people for the ultimate goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage.

The Zanzibar Health Services Fund (ZHSF) will implement the programme by registering people, including issuing membership cards, the Isles health Minister Nassor Ahmed Mazrui announced over the weekend.

The new health insurance applies to all employees or workers in public and private sector; workers in informal sector, foreigners living in Zanzibar whose residence exceeds six months, retirees, students studying in colleges or institutions of higher education in Zanzibar, except for those who shall be dependants of the fund in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The press statement signed by the minister and released here over the weekend, directs all the eligible people for the ZHSF, starting today, to register through www.zhsfsmz.go.tz or visit the newly established Fund offices at the Michenzani Mall building, in the City.

“This period between July and September is for registration, payment of the required contribution, and issuance of membership card. The provision of health services using the new system will follow,” the Minister said in the statement, adding that more information will be provided in the course of registration.

He said that for Zanzibaris working in Tanzania mainland, the Zanzibar health ministry or ZHSF will collaborate with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) in programme implementation.

According to East African cooperation, members of the insurance Funds in individual countries should have access to health services in any country of the regional bloc.

Mr Mazrui said that although registering with ZHSF is compulsory as per Act No 1 of 2023, wealthy people or any other person is free to join other health insurance Funds, and that Zanzibaris including public servants currently using NHIF should continue with it until September this year.

ZHSF was enacted by the House of Representatives and assented by President Hussein Ali Mwinyi in March this year (2023) with two main objectives: To achieve access to the best, reliable and sustainable health services for all citizens and residents of Zanzibar; and achieve the accessibility of sufficient and sustainable financial resources to cover health services for all.

It is explained that the ZHSF contributions from public and private sector members shall be submitted to the Fund by the employers within fourteen days after the end of each respective month.

It is also stipulated that any employer who fails to comply with the condition with regard to remittance of contributions, commits an offence and shall upon conviction, pay fine of not less than 5m/-   or face one-year jail term or both.

The benefits package for the members of the Fund shall include: medical consultation, outpatient and inpatient services, laboratory tests, radiological and other diagnostic services, medicines and medical supplies and equipment approved by the authorised bodies in Zanzibar; surgical services; and oral and dental health services.

Other services that the beneficiary will receive include ophthalmic, dermatology and ENT services, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services; dialysis services, cancer treatment services, reproductive services, maternal and child services, specialist medical services, mental health services, emergency services, intensive care services; assistive device services for people with disabilities, and orthotics and prosthetic services.

In separate occasions, both President Mwinyi and Minister Mazrui insisted that the introduction of insurance Fund does not replace the free health services policy which has existed since after the 1964 revolution, and that all people regardless of economic status will continue enjoying free medical care while  contributing a  small amount of money to sustain it.

Both Mwinyi and Mazrui have also said that the ongoing reforms and improvement of the health sector, including construction of modern healthy facilities, purchase of modern equipment, and strengthening of Public Private Partnership (PPP) by out-sourcing some of services such as lab services, aim to provide quality medical care to all people.

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