The nation's largest referral hospital said yesterday it was tightening restrictions effectively from July 1 as part of plans to decongest the usually overcrowded facility.
Muhimbili currently cares for over 1,300 inpatients, half of whom receive food from outside the hospital.
The hospital's director of nursing services, Agnes Mtawa, said Muhimbili provides free food to some 650 patients from upcountry regions who are admitted to the referral centre.
But up to 700 other inpatients from Dar es Salaam and its environs rely on friends and relatives to bring them their daily meals, causing added congestion at the hospital.
Aminiel Aligaesha, the hospital's spokesperson, said the new measures were aimed at bringing about much-needed improvements to service delivery at the country's biggest hospital.
He said patients admitted to the hospital would pay 'subsidised' prices for food from next month and that a private company has already been hired to provide catering services.
Aligaesha said patients would now be required to pay 50,000/- per month which will apparently cover the cost of medical consultancy fees, inpatient bed service and meals – three times a day.
According to hospital officials, Muhimbili spends over 1.8 billion/- per year to provide free food to its inpatients.
“The food to be provided by the new catering company will be a balanced diet and inpatients will get breakfast, lunch and dinner," Aligaesha said.
He noted that the banning of outside food would also restore a sense of equality at the hospital because all patients would eat the "same food from the same kitchen."
"The new system is expected to significantly decongest our hospital by doing away with disorderly, noisy and sometimes chaotic scenes of visitors coming with food packages for patients every time of the day," he said.
“The hospital promises to provide high quality food for all inpatients ... even for those on special diet."
The only "outside food" that visitors will be allowed to bring is fruit.
Aligaesha also announced new visitor restrictions at the over-stretched hospital.
Visiting hours at the hospital have now been shortened to between 6am and 7am and from 4pm to 6pm. No visitors would be allowed into the hospital in the afternoon. Each patient would now be allowed just one visitor per time.