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Govt mulls reviewing free medical system for elderly

        The current free medical system for the elderly will be reviewed in the near future to curb a myriad of shortcomings, including cheating and leaving out some socially disadvantaged groups, the House heard yesterday. Regional administration and local governments deputy minister Aggrey Mwanri revealed this when responding to a                

         supplementary question by Vunjo MP, Augustine Mrema (TLP). The legislator said despite the fact that the government had introduced free health services for the elderly and vulnerable social groups, most of them didn’t benefit due to various reasons. “I need clarification, how the government ensures effective implementation of this plan. As far as I know, the targeted people are not accessing the free services.

        The situation is worse in remote areas,” Mrema argued. In his response, Mwanri admitted that problems had been encountered in the implementation of the free health services plan, citing identification of eligible elderly people qualifying for the services. However, he said the government was working out on new modalities for effective implementation of the plan in order to ensure that those eligible, get the services. “The government is planning to introduce identity cards to eligible elderly. I am sure, introduction of identity cards would help a great deal in simplifying identification of the right elderly for the free services.

        It will also help in avoiding cheatings by some dishonest individuals seeking free medical services unlawfully,” explained the minister. He informed the House that the free health services programme for the elderly was introduced to enable them access the services without problems and also improving the health status of vulnerable social groups, such as pregnant women and children.

       Answering a basic question asked by Same East MP Anne Kilango, Mwanri said the government was determined to ensure that essential health services reached the needy in the grassroots level countrywide. He said the government facilitated the construction of 32 dispensaries in Vunjo constituency—out of which, 16 belonged to the government, two owned by religious institutions and 14 by private institutions.

       In response to another basic question by Marystella Mallack (Special Seats), Mwanri said the government was working hard to address health problems facing different parts of Katavi region. “Efforts to set up a hospital in the new Katavi region are going on,” he assured.