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Coast Region NHIF cautions on low drug stocks

10th February 2013
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Coast Region management of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has called on district councils in the region to enable village dispensaries to be supplied with sufficient stock of medicines in order to do away with complaints of stock shortages in many dispensaries.

Coast Regional NHIF manager, Andrew Mwilungu made the call yesterday during a brief press conference to introduce the regional fund branch team of workers after the regional office was opened recently, in Kibaha town. The branch office was opened last October 3.

He said that many complaints were raised by residents in the villages which had neither enough medicine stock in dispensaries nor drug shops and as a result patients fail to be treated.

Services need to be improved in dispensaries, health centres and the district hospital by supplying medicines to patients in accordance with doctor’s prescription, so that villagers and the public in general would be impressed and join NHIF and the Community Health Fund (CHF).

“The community is disappointed and ignore to join with neither NHIF nor CHF fearing that they would not be satisfied with the services as they would not be supplied with medicines due to the shortage,” he said.

He said for example the region which has about 272,764 households out of 1.2 million people until December last year, only five 5 per cent out of them were registered in the fund, with 17,780 households registered in the CHF.

Within the region which has six districts, namely Kibaha Rural, Kisarawe, Bagamoyo, Rufiji, Mafia, Mkuranga and Kibaha Urban, Mafia was leading by registering 18 per cent of its households followed by Kisarawe with 12 per cent of its families registered. Kibaha Rural was third by registering nine per cent of households in the NHIF and CHF.

Rufiji district council has four per cent of its households registered, Bagamoyo three per cent and Mkuranga two per cent of its households, while Kibaha town is expected to use cards at an individual level, the manager stated.

Mwilungu said that district councils should appropriately use the contributions from households to get enough medicines. About 67 per cent of the contributions are supposed to be used for buying medicines.

He said that the fund would face challenges including misappropriation of funds in operations of District Executive Directors (DED) and District Medical Officers (DMO). Some workers were also lacking the sense of ownership of the fund, he lamented.

“Few health centres out of 192 in the region were claiming for funds to buy medicines from the Medical Stores Department while the rest do so due to missing allocations from district councils,” he said.

The manager insisted on objectives of the introduction of NHIF and CHF back in 2001 was to implement the role of improving health services in the country. So the funds collected should be used to ensure that there was sufficient stocks of medicines in health centres, he emphasized.

Meanwhile, the NHIF Senior Communication Officer, Luhende Singu has called on stakeholders including journalists to educate the people on the importance of the fund in order to join it to sustain their lives health wise, affirming that many people were not aware of the fund.

A member of the fund could be provided with millions of shillings to undergo treatment in authorized hospitals, he said.

Singu said some members have undergone treatment at a cost of 4m/- after having contributed little amounts of cash in the fund on a monthly or annual basis.

Contributions in CHF annually at a rate stretching from Tsh5000 and Tsh15,000 and in the NHIF it is a monthly percentage from the salary of an employee.

The NHIF works with CHF since 2009 and currently individuals and company employees are allowed to join NHIF. The national health coverage through the fund is expected to reach 30 per cent by 2015, he added.      

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY