Editorial calls for overhaul of healthcare with a focus on the poor

From today's online edition of This Day:

EDITORIAL: Govt commitment needed to revamp health sector


IN Tanzania, like elsewhere in Africa, we have politicians and public officers who have the penchant to seek medical care in health institutions abroad while the nation's health care delivery system is in a shambles.

It is regrettable and shameful that Tanzanians in high offices leave the shores of this country to seek medical treatment elsewhere using our public funds. It translates to their lack of commitment to the fundamental rights of Tanzanians to gain access to quality health care as enshrined in our Constitution.

When our high-ranking government officials fall sick, even from a single mosquito bite, they are rushed abroad because of their status. If a poor man collapses on a Dar es Salaam street from exhaustion because of harsh rays of the sun, will any body fly him to Berlin, Paris or London for treatment?

Our rulers have allowed the healthcare system in the country to deteriorate beyond imagination, offering nothing to Tanzanians. The politicians are only interested in filling their pockets and bank accounts without thinking about what the people are going through to make ends meet or their health

The politicians and their families run abroad to treat fever because they have refused to do what they are supposed to do as regards improving the health care system.

It is a shame for Africa when some of our leaders die in foreign hospitals and return in caskets when they should have made the health care sector functional so that they couldn't leave the shores of their countries for medical check-up in London or Johannesburg. We must reverse this ugly trend.

What we are saying is that African leaders have failed to upgrade, revitalize and revamp the health care sector, which is why the hospitals and clinics are all in a shambles.

All over the world, most individuals cannot afford to pay for their full health care services and for that of their families. You need an insurance policy, especially against very serious cases because they do occur and without money or insurance policy, the person will be in a precarious situation.

Lack of basic medical services has compelled Tanzanians to flock to those "fake" spiritual churches and prayer houses or to the herbalists dotting the country's landscape for medical assistance and in the process, they are being duped.

Many of our leaders think they need not worry because they feel so rich they can get the highest level of medical care from Europe anytime they get ill. They forget that they have the manpower to establish the highest level of medical care right in their home.

The government has to take almost all the blame for the innumerable maladies facing our health care system. If the government provides the tools the doctors in Tanzania need for the practice of their profession, they will do just as well as their colleagues in developed countries. Give the doctors what they need to give Tanzanians the care they need and deserve. It isn't impossible. We only need the will and commitment from the government.

To which we can only add, "Give the nurses what they need, as well."