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Tanzania Health Minister Ummy hails Aga Khan Hospital expansion 2016-08-23

Tuesday, 2016, August 23
Aga Khan Hospital, DaresSalaam, Tanzania

TANZANIA will save 25 billion/- per year from transferring patients to overseas upon completion of a major expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital that will see the health facility develop into a major teaching and tertiary academic medical centre.

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The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the government spends enormous amount of money every year in providing tertiary level treatment to Tanzanians in overseas hospitals.

“The expansion will allow us to ensure that Tanzanians receive advanced medical care at home with all the convenience and support that they rightly deserve,” said the Minister at a ceremony to unveil the project.

The project worth 167bn/-, which will be commissioned by 2018, will allow the 175-beds hospital to provide best health care in non-communicable diseases. Ms Mwalimu, who was the guest of honour at the event, expressed gratitude to the Aga Khan Health Services Institution which owns the Aga Khan hospitals, for its contribution in development of health services in the country.

“The new project is truly a significant investment towards health sector public partnership investment,” she said.

Ms Mwalimu observed that the non-communicable diseases were on increase pointing out junk foods and lifestyle changes as the main cause of the diseases. Chair of the Board Executive Committee of Aga Khan Health Services, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, said her institution came up with the idea of expanding the hospital in Dar es Salaam following the increase of cases of non-communicable diseases.

“Five per cent of the cases the Aga Khan Hospitals receive are of non-communicable diseases,” she said.

Director of Projects and Clinical Programmes Development at the Aga Khan Health Services, Dr Zeenat Sulaiman, said the health facility will house clinical units of neurosciences, cancer, oncology, gynaecology and neonatology. “The health facility will have teaching and learning spaces at each clinical unit throughout the hospital for allied health professionals,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Mwalimu has directed Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) Board of Directors to oversee that the hospital reduces unnecessary referrals abroad to cut government spending on the area. She also directed the board to look through the possibility that 25 per cent of medical drugs reimbursement is used for procuring medicines from the Medical Stores Department (MSD).

Ms Mwalimu made the directives when inaugurating the new MNH Board of Directors in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

"Over 25bn/- is spent on referrals outside the country every year; I am convinced that you are going to reduce the number once MNH achieves its status of a super specialist medical centre in the country," said Ms Mwalimu.

These can only be achieved by availing those health services that are sought outside the country yet they can be obtained within the country, although to some extent that has been attained citing an example of cochlear implant.

"The procurement of drugs and medical equipments at MNH should be properly scrutinized so that 25 per cent revenues obtained from medicines is used to buy the same from MSD," she said.

Ms Mwalimu called on the board to see through that collection of revenues at the hospital is improved while exercising the National health Policy for women, children under five and elderly obtain medical services freely.

"I commend MNH for a notable achievement on revenue collection from the former 2bn/- to currently 4bn/- in a month," noted the Minister. The Chairman of the MNH Board, Prof Charles Majinge, pointed out that for a long time, the performance of the hospital was not as expected due to financial constraints and lack of enough medical supplies but it was time to exercise a new vision.

"My Board will work to see that we are generating effective solutions that will work on the long existing challenges that have been facing the hospital," pointed out Prof Majinge.

All these will be achieved by MNH reflecting its status of a super speciality medical centre and improved services offered at the hospital. Meanwhile, Muhimbili National Hospital has received three ambulances from the Government of Japan and Bango Sangho Dar es Salaam.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, the Ambassador of Japan, Mr Masaharu Yoshida, said a grant contract was signed in February 2015 by the two countries, whereby Japan extended 36,603 US dollars, which is equivalent to 80m/- for the purchase of two ambulances.

‘‘Before the project, MNH had only one ambulance functioning, patience was required to use public transport or private cars for referrals, which is a big burden, particularly to the low-income people,’’ he remarked.

He added: “The situation caused delay of medical care or sometimes death of people, so upon the request of the former Executive Director, Dr Marina Njelekela, the Government of Japan decided to extend this grant," said Mr Yoshida.

On her part, Ms Mwalimu extended recognition to Japan and Bango Sangho Dar es Salaam for their assistance, noting that the ambulances will help save many lives. She called on more individuals with the ability to offer emergency service aid such as ambulances to do so to help save lives.

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