Universal health coverage Bill set for Parliament tabling

By Dickson Ng’hily

Dar es Salaam. The Bill seeking the establishment of universal health coverage will be tabled in Parliament during its sitting which begins tomorrow in Dodoma, President Samia Suluhu Hassan revealed yesterday.

She was speaking at an event to mark 50 years of the founding of the Catholic Women Of Tanzania Association (Wawata) organized by the Dar es Salaam Archdiocese.

“I want to assure you that during the upcoming Parliament sitting we expect to pass legislation that will introduce universal health coverage. I’m asking all Tanzanians to register once it is operational,” President Hassan said.

According to the Head of State, the government has made considerable efforts aimed at making sure that all challenges that might arise during the process are fully addressed before the arrangement begins.

“We are aware of the challenges and weaknesses of our health insurance fund. Therefore, we have taken the necessary measures to ensure that the institution that will be responsible for the scheme will be stable and guided by new legislation, regulations, and policies through which Tanzanians will be able to access healthcare any time they need it,” she said.

President Hassan added that the envisaged healthcare insurance scheme for all will enable Tanzania from all works of life to access healthcare services nationwide with minimum inconvenience.


Also Read: Tanzania can achieve universal health coverage by 2030, says Norwegian minister

Health analysts believe that public healthcare systems, perhaps more so than other public services, require effective regulation to address inherent market failures such as supply-induced demand and financial incentives not necessarily in line with public interest, and more.

It is said that the law will promote efficient, fair, and just allocation of public resources to ensure maximal benefit to the population and that effective and focused regulation is vital for ensuring public interest and the goal of the scheme is met.

Data indicates that the country’s health insurance coverage is still low, with only 32 percent of Tanzanians covered by health insurance schemes.

Also Read: Why Tanzania should invest in universal health insurance

Of this number, only one percent are members of private health insurance, and the rest are served by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Prior to the establishment of the NHIF, there was no formal social health insurance scheme in Tanzania; provision three of the health care system to a large extent was the prerogative of the Government.

In 1993/1994, the country adopted a health sector reform policy which provided gateways to the introduction of other health funds like the drug revolving fund (DRF), community health fund (CHF), the NHIF; the reforms also provided for the private health insurance fund.

The concept of introducing the NHIF was based on the concept of cross-subsidization among members of the scheme such that the healthier assist the less healthy and the members earning high income subsidize those with low income.

Meanwhile, President Hassan responded to queries on the country’s food security, noting that the government was taking precautionary measures to ensure that the country does not become food insecure.

Despite low yields in the last season, she said, Tanzania’s food situation remains good.

“In the government’s strategic grain reserve, we now have over 150,000 tons which we have kept for use during difficult times,” she said.

Also Read: Why clarity is needed for health insurance

During the 2019/20 season, the reserve had about 50,000 tons which were used in helping needy Tanzanians during difficult times. Part of it was also used to help neighboring countries.

“This means that we now have three times as much as what we had two years ago. It is our hope that this will help us during tough times, and the country will effectively come out of such a situation unscathed,” President Hasasan said.

While the country is required to pray so that God grants enough rains, the government is also subsidizing prices of farm inputs to enable farmers to grow effectively.

Earlier, Wawata chairpersons Evaline Ntenga asked the government to reconsider its position on providing healthcare insurance to all as there underprivileged individuals who could not afford the available insurance schemes thus fail to access healthcare service.

She also asked the government to be vigilant about the country’s food security.


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