Tanzania: Zanzibar Ready for Universal Health Insurance

Leonardo Rasaki

Zanzibar — ZANZIBAR is almost ready for the Universal Health Insurance (UHI) that envisages guaranteeing quality medical services for all islanders irrespective of one’s economic status.

Health Minister, Mr Nassor Ahmed Mazrui told the Zanzibar Health Financing Forum here on Tuesday that a bill on the universal health coverage is ready for tabling in the next sitting of the House of Representatives.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure that all Zanzibaris have access to quality, equitable and affordable health services, with money never being an impediment.

“We are quite aware that majority of our people don’t have the financial muscles to pay for health services; but under UHI, every person attending health facility will receive complete services–money should never be an obstacle,” said Minister Mazrui.

He expounded that although Zanzibar Health Policy provides for free medical services to all citizens, the reality on the ground is quite different. He conceded poor quality of care at many public primary facilities, leading to dismal health outcomes, including high maternal and under-five mortality rates.

The Revolutionary Government is working closely with a health non-governmental organisation–PharmAccess–among other partners, to accomplish the universal health dream.

PharmAccess Programme Manager, Dr Faiza Abbas said it is high time every Zanzibari was insured against ailments, saying it’s unrealistic for the government to provide quality and equitable medical care to all 1.7 million islanders.