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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Tanzania applies Private Public Partnership to fight cancer

30th January 2014
Minister for Health, Dr Seif Rashid and Princess Zahra Aga Khan, grace inauguration of Oncology wing at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

Composed of a diverse range of profit and non-profit organizations, the private health sector in Tanzania is making significant contributions within the national health system
Recently, one of the private health facility in the country, Aga Khan Hospital, launched its first ever Oncology programme.

Oncology is a branch of medical science dealing with tumors, including the origin, development, diagnosis, and treatment of malignant neoplasm.
This programme is part of the Phase II 130bn/- expansion of the hospital designed to cover cardiac and other medical specialties.

According to Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, the hospital’s Oncology programme will be one the most comprehensive of any private sector health care oncology programmes in Tanzania.

Speaking during the programme’s launch in Dar es Salaam Princess Zahra said: “The Hospital’s expansion is the largest ever carried out by the Aga Khan Health Services since its opening in 1964 and the single largest private sector investment in health care in Tanzania,’’
She noted that the phase of expansion will see the development of comprehensive programmes in cardiology, oncology, neurosciences, critical care, maternal and child health and advanced diagnostics.

“The new facilities are being designed by leading international and Tanzanian based hospital planners, architects and engineers, which will see new construction of almost 13,000 square meters, renovations of approximately 6000 square metres and will double the hospital’s capacity to over 150 beds,’’ she said

According to her the development will also provide an opportunity for capacity building and additional recruitment resulting in a total staff complement of over 800 healthcare and other professionals who will be responsible for providing much needed and high-end clinical services.

“Over and above the hospital expansion, over the next 5 years, and in addition to the 5 existing Aga Khan Health Services Primary Health Care Centres across Tanzania, we will be establishing an additional 30 outreach health centres that will be closely linked in a hub and spoke model with the hospital,’’ she promised
According to her, the objective is to create a true integrated system that will provide access to quality affordable health care. Oncology clinics which began in December last year have to date carried out over 50 chemotherapy treatments.

However, she admitted that this ambitious agenda cannot be achieved independently and as such one of the key elements of her hospital’s vision includes creating meaningful and value added partnerships in particular with the government.

She mentioned a current example of public private partnership that is her hospital’s Canadian-funded programme in maternal, newborn and child health whereby in partnership with the Ministry of Health and its field units, they work with 31 government health facilities spread over 15 districts with the aim to provide access to good quality maternal and new born child health.

“As part of our overall phase 2 expansion plans, 42 Tanzanian healthcare professionals will travel oversees for training and further education. This includes short trainings, as well as fellowship programmes, for example, in interventional cardiology,’’ she said
In the spirit of good public private partnership, the hospital intends to develop strong collaboration with the Ocean Road Cancer Institute, the oldest institute and the only institute at the providing comprehensive cancer services in the country.

The collaboration will provide a platform to share knowledge, experience and skills among health workers to ensure the best care for the patients.

In October last year, the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam, together with the her Primary Medical Centres, became the first and only healthcare system in the country to attain the ISO 9001:2000 Certification for high quality standards in healthcare provision.

Now being part of the AKDN health system in East Africa, the hospital in Dar es Salaam is striving for the prestigious Joint Commission International Accreditation (JCIA).

These rigorous international healthcare facility standards will ensure patients receive quality care provided by well-trained staff in a safe environment, according to Zahra
In July this year, the hospital is intending to establish its cardiac programme which is another integral component of its Phase II expansion. The programme will include a state of the art cath lab and other cardiac services.

Speaking during the launch, Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Rashid, praised the hospital for its continued support to the public, commending the institution’s long term commitment towards the growth, success and sustainability of quality health care.

He underscored the importance of supporting and partnering with private health care investors in delivering the Government’s health care objectives.

“This is another important achievement in public private partnership and a new milestone in addressing the growing challenge of morbidity and mortality due to increasing incidences of cancers in Tanzania,’’ noted the minister
He appreciated the efforts done by private stakeholders in improving the provision of quality health services, particularly in bringing the services closer to the people.

According to the Minister, the hospitals Oncology programme comes while the burden of cancer is increasing globally and particularly in developing countries including Tanzania.

“While the resources to address it is diminishing, WHO estimates that 12.6 million patients are diagnosed of cancer annually in the world, and 7.6 million of them die each year,’’ he said.

To address these challenges, the government has invested in improving provision of cancer-related health services in various health facilities in Tanzania and continues to collaborate with the private sector, engaged or willing to engage in this endeavour, according to the Minister.

He noted that the government is planning to wide the provision of cancer related health services in various health facilities including KCMC and Bugando hospitals in Kilimanjaro and Mwanza regions respectively as an initiative geared to address the growing challenge of deaths resulting from the disease.

“Currently many people don’t have access to timely diagnostic and curative services due to shortage of skilled health care workers and shortage of health facilities that offer diagnostic and treatment services to cancer patients…we must end this,”
“However, I am pleased that this hospital has also significantly invested in enhancing its surgical resources to effectively carry out much needed cancer surgeries.

In addition, I am informed that the hospital is also planning to install Nuclear Medicine and a high end Multi Slice CT scanner that are needed diagnostic tools for Cancer detection...this is great,’’ he appreciated
He added that since 2010 his Ministry has designated The Aga Khan Hospital as an internship training site for medical and pharmacy graduates and that the hospital has been imparting quality training to 15 interns each year.

On behalf of the government, the minister promised to support health care innovation and quality service delivery and together with collaborating and improving the environment to make it more conducive to stakeholders in health.

Tanzania has got about 44,000 patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer. However many do not have access to timely diagnostic and curative services.