Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has directed the Controller and Auditor General to thoroughly audit expenditure of the fees contributed by the public as part of health cost sharing policy to ensure value for money.
The premier issued the directive yesterday in Dar es Salaam in his speech to mark the tenth anniversary of the National Health Insurance Fund attended by high profile government and retired officials.
He said the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare should collaborate with the Prime Minister’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government and the CAG’s office to audit the funds to establish that they were being properly used for provision of better services.
Pinda said that NHIF has paid over 140bn/- to various registered heath centres owned by the government, religious organisations and private hospitals in a bid to improve services.
He called upon all health service providers to organise themselves for better service delivery.
“You are supposed to be honest so that you can get fair payment …don’t involve yourselves in forging claims which threaten the existence of the Fund,” Pinda insisted.
He said the development of the Fund will help most of the citizens in accessing better health services: “We should develop the fund so as to build trust in wananchi in accessing the Fund’s services.”
The Premier further said that it was high time the NHIF Board looked into the possibility of investing in construction of its own hospitals so that it can provide better services to its members and the public in general.
He said that currently the NHIF and Community Health Fund supervised the implementation of the strategy of attaining better services for all.
Pinda observed that despite having the two Funds the number of Tanzanians who were being treated under healthcare insurance was still small.
“I have been told that only 15percent of all Tanzanians use NHIF, among them 9.2 benefit from the CHF which was supposed to serve majority of the population,” Pinda said.
He said according to reports neighboring Rwanda has reached 91 percent of its people through such a scheme, although the majority of African countries were still below 10 percent.
The PM directed the Ministry of Health to meet with NHIF leadership to prepare a strategy which will ensure that all Tanzanians access services from the Fund.
For his part retired President Benjamin Mkapa who was presented with an award for establishing NHIF called on Tanzanians to be ready to contribute for their development.
“We should contribute for our development and in improving our health services,” he said.
He said in the period of 10 years NHIF has enabled the country to have a good system which operates independently of the government budget to serve people and contribute for development of the health sector.
He however called upon the public to contribute to the Fund because cost sharing in health insurance was the modern system.
NHIF Director General Emmanuel Humba said the aim of the celebrations was to bring together all stakeholders from different parts of the country to share in the NHIF successes and challenges and recognise the contribution of various stakeholders since its inception.
He said now the concept of health insurance was understood by the majority of Tanzanians compared to the time the Fund was established.
Humba said the 10 years have been for development and growth of the Fund. It has attracted a majority of the people including development partners.
He said the theme for the celebrations was “Commitment and trustworthiness”, and included the launching of two books, one on the history of the Fund and the other on treatment services in rural areas.
A number of awards were given to various stakeholders who contributed to the development of the Fund including government officials and journalists.
Those who were awarded yesterday included Mkapa, former Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye, former Ministers of Health Anna Abdalah, Prof David Mwakyusa and Dr Hussein Mwinyi. Others are retired Permanent Secretaries Mariam Mwafisi and Wilson Mukama.
Among the journalists who were awarded included Joyce Bazira formerly with IPP Media who published a number of stories on NHIF through communicating with the Fund officials via telephone or emails without meeting them for a period of two years. She warned the Fund not to interfere in her responsibilities especially when there was a story which NHIF would not wish to be published.