by Ben Taylor
A serious shortage of drugs in public health facilities in November led to calls by some MPs for the parliamentary session to be cut short and for the money saved to be used to alleviate the problem. The crisis developed after Medical Stores Department (MSD) stopped supplying public hospitals with drugs and other consumables, due to non-payment by the government. Sikika, a lobby group that advocates quality health services for Tanzanians, said that the government owes MSD TSh90 billion, while CUF chairman Ibrahim Lipumba said that the actual amount was TSh120 billion. The crisis came in the wake of the suspension by the donor community of general budget support (see Energy Scandal Story).
Hospital ship for Lake Victoria
In October Princess Anne launched the medical ship Jubilee Hope on Lake Victoria. The 150-ton former Royal Navy tender has been converted to serve as a floating hospital. It arrived at Lake Victoria after six months at sea and 850km over land from Mombasa. The ship was fitted out on the Clyde by BAE Systems and has an operating theatre, two consulting areas, an eye surgery a full dental surgery and a laboratory.
The project, which commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, will offer medical care to a population of 400,000 in isolated communities on islands and around the shores of Lake Victoria. Geita Gold Mine, a subsidiary of Anglo Gold Ashanti Ltd, will refuel the ship until 2019 at a cost of $500,000 (TSh 825 million). “GGM is proud to participate in this noble initiative,” said managing director of GGM Michael Van Anen, “This is in keeping with our core value of leaving our host communities with sustainable futures.”
Willie McPherson, CEO of the charity Vine Trust which organised the project, said: “I’m delighted with the optimism and goodwill greeting the Jubilee Hope in Tanzania and the wide support amongst those concerned with primary health care in the island communities.”