The government has urged the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to reduce interest charges on medical supplies soft loans to health facilities from 10 to 5 per cent to enable small health providers afford the loans, particularly dispensaries and health centres based in rural areas.
This was said by the Tanga Regional Commissioner, Chiku Gallawa over the weekend, after receiving a donation of 200 bed sheets from NHIF - Tanga Branch meant for Bombo Referral Hospital.
Gallawa said in principle, the donation was meant to improve health services but the main challenge was the possibility of some providers failing to service their loans due to high interest rate charged on loans.
She said if NHIF would consider reducing the rate then it is obvious that many more health centres and dispensaries would go for the loans, something that would increase availability of medical equipment and supplies in health facilities.
“These loans are very beneficial in the process of improving health services; it is only the high interest rates that worries some health service providers,” said the RC.
Furthermore, Gallawa called on other institutions to learn from NHIF and understand the importance of donating health services materials to hospitals, particularly bed sheets, saying the standard is for each hospital bed to have between six to eight bed sheets.
For his part, the NHIF Tanga Manager, Ally Mwakababu said the donation was worth 3m/- and was aimed at reducing the shortage of bed sheets at the hospital, because the situation had reached a point whereby patients had to come with their own bed covers.
Mwakababu said the Fund was touched by the many challenges facing the society particularly the question of availability of quality health services, and it was for that reason that since January last year, the Fund issued soft conditions loans worth 188.8m/-.
Speaking about these loans and rehabilitation made under the Fund, he said health service providers were not yet very much motivated by the soft loans issued by the fund.
He said only four health facilities in Tanga Region have gone for the loans.
He identified the hospitals as; Bombo Referral Hospital that has taken up medical equipment worth 130.5m/-, Pangani District Hospital (17.7m/) and Makorora health centre (11m/-).
“Since January last year we have donated 770 bed sheets to Bombo Referral Hospital and to other health centres and dispensaries run by religious organisations, all worth about 11.5m/-,” explained Mwakababu.