Earlier, the government’s plan was to become a middle income economy by 2025, but significant progress has been made in the past five years hence the World Bank’s decision to declare Tanzania a new lower middle income economy.
“I commend banks including NMB for having played a key role in ensuring that our country graduates into middle income status ahead of schedule,” said Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Dr Philip Mpango said recently while receiving an over 15bn/- dividend paycheck from NMB’s Board Chairman, Dr Edwin Mhede.
Dr Mpango said banks still have a key role to play in ensuring that the majority Tanzanians especially those who live in remote rural areas get formal banking services but also Bancassurance products including insurance.
Health insurance is an important product which has been denied to the majority Tanzanians especially those in low income bracket. In order to beef up government efforts to provide universal health coverage, NMB has teamed up with National Health Insurance Fund to introduce a ‘Dunduliza’ Health Insurance scheme.
“The good thing with this scheme is that it allows low income earners such as petty traders pay in instalments for their health insurance cover. Many poor families could not afford to pay in lamp sum the premium needed to get an NHIF coverage but now such a challenge is over,” said NMB’s CEO, Ruth Zaipuna during the launch of ‘Dunduliza’ Health Insurance scheme recently.
The ‘Dunduliza’ which is Kiswahili literally meaning, ‘mobilise small savings’ is expected to play a decisive role in the provision of healthcare coverage for the majority of the people hence enjoy access to affordable and quality medical services.
Zaipuna and NHIF’s Director General, Bernard Konga, said the innovative scheme will mostly benefit ordinary Tanzanians who have so far been marginalised by existing health insurance scheme for various reasons.
The two senior management officials said implementation of the scheme will be supported by NMB huge market outreach in the country backed by massive investments made by the two organisations in digital technologies. Of utmost importance, they noted, is the pivotal role that ‘Dunduliza’ will play in supporting government’s efforts to roll out universal health coverage.
“The main reason of signing this agreement is to back state efforts to reach its objective of universal health coverage to enable all Tanzanians, especially those in low income bracket notably farmers and small business owners, access health insurance coverage,” said Zaipuna.
She said by teaming up, NMB and NHIF will be able to reach and serve even Tanzanians living in the remotest parts of the country through the bank’s extensive branch network and agents. “Currently NMB Bank has 227 branches that cover all administrative districts of the country plus some wards as well as over 7,000 agents (NMB Wakala),” she added.
Zaipuna further noted that ‘Dunduliza’ scheme allows people to make small savings through NMB Bank that eventually enables them to pay for NHIF health insurance cover for themselves and their dependants.
Seconding Zaipuna’s observation, NHIF’s Konga said they came up with the scheme after launching of the health insurance packages last November to cater for people outside the civil service. He said NHIF has realised that the major challenge for many people to get health insurance coverage is affordability. “We therefore decided to sell the idea of partnering with financial institutions to better serve the people and we are grateful that NMB Bank readily bought it and here we are,” Konga noted.
According to him, ‘Dunduliza’ seeks to enable Tanzanians benefit from medical services by making health insurance affordable to the majority through payment made in small savings which many people will afford.
“Currently we have over 4.4 million members and it is our expectation that the ‘Dunduliza’ scheme will greatly boost the number,” the NHIF chief executive noted adding that the deal is the first of its kind between a bank and the fund in the domestic market.
Through this arrangement, one is enabled to contribute to any of the NHIF health insurance packages, namely Najali Afya, Wekeza Afya and Timiza Afya, depending on their financial position.