Zanzibar is ready for universal health insurance – InsuranceNewsNet


ZANZIBAR is almost ready for the Universal health insurance (UHI) which envisions ensuring quality medical services to all islanders, regardless of their economic status.

Minister of Health, Mr. Nassor Ahmed Mazrui say it Zanzibar Health Financing Forum here on Tuesday that a bill on universal health coverage is ready to be tabled at the next session of the House of Representatives.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring that all Zanzibarans have access to quality, equitable and affordable health services, with money never being a barrier.

“We are fully aware that the majority of our population does not have the financial means to pay for health services; but under UHI, every person attending a health facility will receive comprehensive services – money should never be a barrier,” Minister Mazrui said.

He explained that although Zanzibar’s health policy provides free medical services to all citizens, the reality on the ground is quite different. He conceded the poor quality of care in many public primary facilities, resulting in dismal health outcomes, including high maternal and under-five mortality rates.

The revolutionary government is working closely with a non-governmental health organization – PharmAccess – among other partners, to realize the dream of universal health.

PharmAccess Program Manager, Dr. Faiza Abbas said it was high time every Zanzibar was insured against disease, saying it was unrealistic for the government to provide quality and equitable medical care to all of the island’s 1.7 million.

“Under universal health insurance, more funds will be available for health care,” said Dr Abbasadding that the insurance scheme will also reduce out-of-pocket health costs, which is a serious problem for the majority of poor islanders.

United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Head of Social Policy, Mr. Diego Angemi said that the United Nations agency supports the universal health coverage campaign, convinced that health services are never a privilege but a fundamental right for all citizens.

He implored stakeholders to work together to come up with elaborate and minimal financial packages to ensure stable funding for health services, “leaving no one behind”.

The one-day forum brought together health experts and stakeholders to share lessons and experiences on sustainable financing for universal health coverage in the country.

Head of Health Financing at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Abdul-latf Haji told the forum that the government is already moving towards universal coverage, citing the creation of universal health insurance, a health equity fund, a visitor program and the launch institutional planning, budgeting and procurement as ongoing initiatives.

The government, through the health registry, has started to revise the country’s health financing strategy in 2020 with a view to increasing access to affordable and quality health services. It has also signed a partnership agreement with PharmAccess as a technical assistant in the deployment of the plan.


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