PharmAccess and its German consultancy partner GFA have won a EUR 27.3 million Euros tender from the German development bank KfW to improve access to healthcare for low-income pregnant women in 5 regions of Tanzania. The program aims to reach 230,000 mothers and newborns from their first antenatal care visit until one year after delivery. The program started on August 1st 2016 for a period of two years.
The tender is a follow-up (‘phase II’) to an existing program which was managed by GFA. As a part of this first phase, 112,000 pregnant women a year were provided with NHIF membership cards until six months after delivery while their families were enrolled in the Community Health Fund (CHF). As a result, women and their children had the opportunity to access healthcare at public and private healthcare facilities without paying out-of-pocket. Healthcare facilities are able to claim for treatment of mothers and their babies at NHIF.
In phase II, enrolment will be scaled up by including two more regions (Lindi and Mtwara) besides the existing regions Mbeya, Songwe and Tanga. Through technical assistance to NHIF, insurance administration will be streamlined including the expanded use of mobile enrolment and e-claiming by healthcare facilities. The role of PharmAccess will be concentrated on improving provider quality through trainings and equipment provision, health economics and health financing and introducing innovative approaches.
To begin with, the program will continue with the existing approach of issuing NHIF membership cards to pregnant women and enrolling their families into CHF. However, the aim is to sustainably integrate the program in the national health financing system. One of the options for this could be to enrol the mothers in the improved CHF (iCHF) since the CHF premium is more geared toward the informal sector. The iCHF benefit package is more comprehensive than the existing CHF package and in that sense more similar to the NHIF benefit package. The Government of Tanzania is currently developing a Reformed CHF. This Reformed CHF is likely to include key elements of the iCHF approach already used by NHIF and PharmAccess in Northern Tanzania.