Why Taita Taveta residents are opting to seek healthcare in Tanzania

Health County Executive Dr Frank Mwangemi said the county government was aiming at improving health services in all public hospitals across the county.

“Our people have a perception that public hospitals are offering poor services. We have really improved in many ways and we urge them to use our facilities,” he said.

A number of Taita Taveta residents prefer seeking medical care in neighbouring Tanzania, despite devolution of health services to county governments

Interviews with residents in Taveta Town revealed that a high number of locals prefer being treated at a dispensary in the neighbouring border town Holili than in the Taveta sub-county hospital.

Moshi Town is also increasingly becoming popular with Taita Taveta residents seeking medical treatment because the hospitals are relatively affordable, have skilled personnel and modern equipment.

Residents interviewed by the Business Daily said they prefer travelling to the hospitals for even a mere illness like cold and cough.

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“Yesterday I woke up not feeling well and I decided to take a motorbike to Kwa Minja hospital in Himo. I was treated quickly and came back home after a few hours contrary to our hospital (Taveta) where I will be forced to stay the whole day waiting to see the doctor,” said a resident Purity Mwaka.

Ms Mwaka accused some of the hospital staff of being rude to patients seeking treatment at the facility.

Handled with dignity

“I better go to a hospital where I will be handled with dignity even if it’s outside the country rather than go to a local one where health care is not a priority to them,” she said.

Another local, Mr David Kiongo, said he too prefers hospitals across the border for treatment.

He said most residents were attracted by the affordability of Tanzanian hospitals.

“At the facilities the workers are very concerned about your illnesses. After treatment you’re sure that you’ll get healed because of the hospitality of staff,” he said.

He said the private and public hospitals have shorter wait terms and ranked them higher in terms of medical care.

NHIF beneficiaries forced to pay

Nashera Kodawa, another resident, said National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) beneficiaries were being forced to pay for services at the Taveta hospital.

Kodawa said they were given an option of buying medicine at a private chemist in Taveta town and later present receipts to the hospital for reimbursement.

“I’m owed close to Sh20,000 and nothing is being done to pay us,” he said.

He said the hospital lacks enough drugs forcing patients to buy medicine from chemists.

A bodaboda rider, John Mnene, said ferrying many people to public and private hospitals in Tanzania for treatment.

Mr Mnene said some of them come as far as Voi, Wundanyi and Mwatate to go to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi for treatment.

“Every week there is a matatu full of people from Taita who pass through this town heading to KCMC hospital for treatment,” he said.

Facing challenges

Taveta hospital administrator Mr Gabriel Kijanda said although the hospital is facing a number of challenges, the services had improved.

He agreed that the hospital is facing shortage of health workers but said the county health department was working towards resolving the problem.

“What we lack is proper channels of communication. Our clients are being fed with a lot of misinformation out there concerning our hospital,” he said.

Health County Executive Dr Frank Mwangemi said the county government was aiming at improving health services in all public hospitals across the county.

“Our people have a perception that public hospitals are offering poor services. We have really improved in many ways and we urge them to use our facilities,” he said.

He however said it was hard to change minds of those who prefer going to seek treatment outside the county since it was a personal decision.

~ Business Daily 

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