Universal Health Coverage awaits next financial year

08May 2019
The Guardian Reporter
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Universal Health Coverage awaits next financial year

THE much-awaited Universal Health Coverage (UHC) bill is set for tabling in the National Assembly next financial year with the prospect of ending the burden of out-of-pocket payment for millions of Tanzanians.

House Speaker Job Ndugai said here yesterday that all preparations for the proposed law are in place including learning tours by MPs to some African countries that have successfully implemented the programme.

“MPs went to several countries including Uganda and Ghana to learn how the Universal Health Coverage model works,” he said. 

The Speaker who spoke during the official opening of Medical Laboratory Scientists Association of Tanzania (MELSAT) at Nyerere Square here noted that the decision to adopt UHC was reached after it emerged that the cash for health approach was unattainable for most poor Tanzanians.

“This will bring transformation in our healthcare because no one will be left out as opposed to the current situation where many people cannot go to hospital because they have no money,” he said.

Ndugai said after preparations and studies of best practices, his office will do everything possible to ensure that the bill sails through and gets signed into law since the majority poor Tanzanians will benefit a lot from the legislation.

And as Tanzania strives to build an industrial economy and attain middle income country status by 2025, UHC is inevitable as it is also a pre-condition for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he stated.

Proponents of the plan say the primary reason for investing in UHC is a moral one, that it is not acceptable for some members of society to face death, disability, ill health or impoverishment for reasons that could be addressed at a limited cost.

UHC provides that all people and communities can use the promotional, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need and of sufficient quality while ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardships.

This calls for governments to increase domestic allocation of resources for health to protect citizens from hardships and catastrophic health expenditure, ensuring the sustainable development goals.

The current reality is still the opposite is the case in Africa, where on average 38 per cent of health expenditure is covered from out-of-pocket (OPP) expenditure which exposes individuals, families and communities to financial hardships, poverty and destitution.