The Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation (BMF) in its efforts to continue strengthening health systems in the underserved area through a collaborative project with the Ministry of Health handed over newly constructed 19 staff house in Rukwa and Katavi region on 27th February 2016. This is an initiative to enhance staff retention in remote areas to combat shortage of health workforce financed by the Global Fund to fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Round 9.
The half day ceremony took place at Kabungu health center in Katavi region and witnessed by the villagers and local authorities, and it was graced by the Former Prime Minister of Tanzania, Hon. Mizengo Kayanza Pinda as the guest of honor.
Hon. Mizengo Kayanza Pinda after cutting a tape to officiate the handing over of staff house in Rukwa & Katavi, standing on the right is the CEO of BMF Dr. Ellen Mkondya-Senkoro and on the left is Dr. Gowelle of the Ministry of Health
In his speech during the inauguration ceremony, Hon. Pinda said that he is pleased with the effort of the government in collaboration with BMF in ensuring the national objective for strengthening human resource for health is achieved at highest speed. He further mentioned continues that despite the achievement attained by the Government, but the country is still facing the severe shortage of health workers which is at 52% short of the required number of skilled health workers.
He thus urged the local government authorities that health centers that have staff houses built within the premises, must quickly be occupied by the intended health cadres, to ensure provision of good health services. He also directed the authorities to ensure availability of medical tools, equipment and pharmaceuticals at all time at the health centers and dispensaries. “It is important to set adequate budget for the maintenance of these handed over staff house to facilitate better living condition for the health workers” said Hon. Mizengo Kayanza Pinda.
Health workers and village leaders of Kabungu village
Addressing the guest of honor and attendees at the ceremony the CEO of BMF Dr. Ellen Mkondya-Senkoro said construction of staff houses in underserved areas is among the responsibility of the foundation tasked by the Ministry of Health as per signed agreement in 2011/12. A total of 480 staff house are being constructed in 51 districts within the country, of which 30 are located in Rukwa region within the districts of Sumbawanga municipal (10), Sumbawanga rural (4), Kalambo (6), and Nkasi (10) as well as 10 houses are located in Katavi region within Mpanda district (5), Nsimbo (2), and Mlele(3).
“ 20 out of total 40 staff houses constructed within the two regions, were handed over in September 2013 in the districts of Kalambo, Sumbawanga rural and Sumbawanga Municipal. Today we are pleased to finalize handing over the remaining 19 and the last final one house is to be completed by end of March 2016” .
Dr. Ellen Mkondya-Senkoro CEO of BMF sharing a photo with children during the handing over ceremony held in Mpanda District
The Regional Commissioner of Katavi present during the occasion stated that the 19 staff house handed over today have narrowed the gap in terms of shortage of staff house by 25% within respective region. He pleaded the Foundation to continue supporting Katavi as it is one of the least developed regions, and it has unpleasant health indicators.
The local community was overwhelmed with joy as they receive the staff house, which will ensure the availability of health workers within the respective health center throughout the day including at night when needs for emergency arises.
Two of the health workers who are of clinical officer and nurse cadre found at the Kabungu health facility had already moved in to share and occupy the house. The one house among the 19 handed over have a sitting room, 3 bedrooms, kitchen and a bathroom. By them moving into the house within the facility compound, has minimized the distance and risks of walking an average of 5 kms from where they were residing before.