New health insurance scheme launched in Tanzania:
PharmAccess, the Tanzanian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and Siha district have officially launched the improved Community Health Fund (iCHF). After this initial launch the program is due to expand to 20 districts in Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara region, starting with Moshi Rural and Hai districts in the coming weeks. iCHF is a combination of the district-owned Community Health Fund (CHF) and the PharmAccess supported Kilimanjaro Native Cooperation Union (KNCU) Health Plan. By combining the best of both schemes the provision of health insurance at affordable premiums is strengthened, facilitating further risk pooling and efficient use of resources. This translates into members benefiting from access to more healthcare facilities, as well as a more extensive benefits package.
Kwasi Boahene from Health Insurance Fund speaking at iCHF launch
Under the new scheme, a household can enroll up to six family members and thereby access outpatient services including chronic conditions management and basic dental cover and in-patient services including minor surgeries. The government will provide 50% premium subsidy and this subsidy is provided through NHIF. Enrollees will contribute the remaining half of the premium themselves. This element of local ownership, combined with the capacity building that PharmAccess will provide, ensures long-term sustainability of the scheme.
PharmAccess provides technical assistance for administration, quality improvement and marketing for the iCHF. In order to improve the quality of healthcare services, the public and private healthcare facilities in iCHF will be introduced into the SafeCare program. Moreover NHIF and PharmAccess will jointly facilitate the upgrading of health facilities, by attracting investments, to ensure quality services are provided in the scheme, and increase total coverage.
The Tanzanian Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Seif Rashid, was quoted in the local press as saying that many healthcare facilities in Kilimanjaro are being renovated with the help of PharmAccess and services would be ‘excellent’. Both NHIF officials and districts officials encouraged the people of Siha district to enroll as quickly as possible in the scheme to benefit from the access to affordable and quality healthcare. Their support is having a very positive effect on enrollment rates.
iCHF will employ a number of marketing strategies to reach the target population, such as radio, door-to-door visits and interactive group sessions. Research has shown that local radio remains the most efficient channel. Therefore, the marketing team has developed an iCHF theme song and dance. During the launch these were performed for the first time. It was well received and added to the festive spirit of the occasion.
The event received considerable local media attention, and was broadcast live by Boma Hai FM radio in the three regions. Moreover several local newspapers covered the event, including the Daily Nation (read here) and Ewout Irrgang, Country Director Tanzania PharmAccess also published a blog about the event on WhoCares.me (read here)