Private health facilities found using professionals from public health institutions during official hours will be closed down, Health and Social Welfare minister Hadji Mponda declared yesterday.
Announcing the measure in Parliament yesterday, minister said the move was part of the radical reforms underlined in the ministry’s 2011/12 budget estimates.
“We will take punitive action against public health professionals discovered to use official hours to provide consultancy services in private health centres and facilities,” the minister said.
“Even private facilities spotted using public health experts will face the music…they will be closed down,” the minister added.
The latest government action, according to the minister, goes concurrently with the national programmes aimed at delivery of sound services in public health facilities.
He explained that in situations where public health experts are urgently needed to provide services in private health facilities, there must be an agreement between both sides that’s public and private health facilities.
But he said private health facilities which allow public health professionals to work for them during official hours without special permits from respective public institutions, would be closed down.
Presenting their views on the ministry’s budget proposals, the opposition camp in Parliament blasted the ministry for corruption, mismanagement of public funds, and mysterious disappearance of budgetary allocations.
Opposition spokesperson for the ministry of health, Dr Antony Mbassa said several reports by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) have uncovered serious frauds in the ministry’s expenditures.
“According to the 2009/10 CAG report, 77,707,817/- was paid out as salaries to retired employees, absent and dead staff by the ministry. The same report shows that 312, 751, 754/- paid as allowances to the ministry’s officials was questioned. Payments amounting to 156,976,512/- were made without supportive receipts,” Mbassa said.
“The ministry bad mark (qualified certificate) in the CAG report…the report uncovered serious financial irregularities—19, 975,000/- worth of bought equipment which has no explanation and an unexpected debt of (802,000,000/-),” he said.
“Even, 2008/09 CAG report mentioned the same financial anomalies in the health ministry,” he noted.
Tasking the ministry and government, Mbassa asked them to explain measures that are being taken against the officials masterminding high-profile corruption and financial malpractices.
Felix Mkosamali (Muhambwe, NCCR Mageuzi) asked the government to incorporate access to health services in the country’s constitution to enable Tanzanians who go without the services to demand their right for the same in court.
“Access to health service should be categorically stated in the Constitution. This would allow people to sue the government if it fails to guarantee them the services. Currently, the government provides this service as a privilege and not as a right to its people. This is very wrong,” the legislator said.
Mendrad Kigola (Mufindi-South, CCM) faulted the health ministry for its failure to provide drugs and equipment to health facilities, and its slow-pace in building health centres in remote areas.
He said this alone was a big threat to the health of millions of Tanzanians.
For his part, Saidi Suleman Saidi criticised the government over allocation of meager funds last year to the Medical Stores Department (MSD). He said out of the endorsed budget of 31bn/- only 20bn/- was dished out.
In the circumstances, he said: “we should not expect MSD to have delivered to government and public expectations.”
The health minister asked the House to endorse 564,161,863,000/-, out of which 219.36bn/- will be recurrent expenditure and 364.79b/- development expenditure.