The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals, seek to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all global citizens enjoy peace and prosperity. These goals cut across 3 dimensions; economic, environmental and social. The social dimension of SDG 3 aims to transform the world by ensuring good health and well-being for all.
The second phase of Tanzania’s Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP), strives to ensure the SDGs are adequately embedded into national development planning. It outlines interventions that enables the country to transform to a wealthier and more resilient society; improved health, access to quality health services and medicines are critical to achieve the anticipated developmental goals.
The government has a number of health initiatives that seek to improve the delivery of health services and bridge the existing gaps. Through the Ministry of Health, the government is currently sensitizing key stakeholders on the prevailing health challenges holding the country back from achieving quality health for all. One example is the national campaign ‘Jiongeze tuwavushe salama,’championed by the Vice President, Hon. Samia Suluhu, which aims to achieve the third SDG targets of reduced maternal and neonatal mortality ratio to 70 per 100,000 live births and 12 per 1000 live births respectively.
Afya Microfinance (AMiF) is a social enterprise established in 2012 by Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA) for the purpose of improving health services in Tanzania by providing affordable loans to Accredited Drug Dispensing Outlets (ADDOs), hospitals, dispensaries, clinics, health centers, pharmacies, laboratories and any other private providers of health care services. In order to achieve the SDG 3 targets of access to quality essential health-care services and safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines, AMiF provides access to affordable loans, engages beneficiaries to provide improved quality healthcare services to a large number of the population and encourages them to purchase high quality medicines through reputable suppliers, in appropriate quantities, and at an affordable price.
Despite the huge demand for health services in Tanzania, health coverage is yet to be attained because Accredited Drug Dispensing Outlets (ADDO’s) owners have experienced difficulties in accessing finance to ensure their shops are stocked with high quality medications in adequate supply. As a result, most small enterprises have failed lacking financial management acumen and collateral in order to access loans from financial service providers. Other contribution factors include; shortage of qualified healthcare professionals at all levels – especially in remote areas, poor infrastructure limiting access to healthcare services, inefficiencies of the healthcare system, poverty and illiteracy are some of the challenges faced by healthcare entrepreneurs.
The Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) provided funding to the Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA) to develop a customized loan product for an underserved micro-lending market while improving access to first line health services. The support has enabled AMiF to support over 300 businesses in 10 regions of Tanzania empowering health sector entrepreneurs to improve their businesses by taking loans, expanding the type of services offered, and their businesses to serve more clients.
Recognizing the need for medical drugs in her community, Agnes Nyasebo, a nurse-midwife working in a peri-urban area of Dar es Salaam is an AMiF beneficiary whose small beginnings selling medicines informally from her house has expanded to a registered business with its own premises. AMiF provided guidance and advisory support that enabled her to receive an initial loan of Tsh 1 million that helped her register her business, renovate the shop to meet the ADDO standards, and increase her inventory. “AMiF linked me with a reputable supplier and negotiated a lower price for drugs and supplies. In no time I was able to repay my loan and received additional financing for Tsh 3 million to scale up my business,” said an enthusiastic Agnes.
Agnes’ business has seen a tremendous growth and she has currently employed an assistant as she invests more time in exploring opportunities to expand her business. “Over the course of the two loans, Agnes’ income has risen from Tsh 15,000 per day, with three clients to Tsh 150,000 per day with over 40 clients” said Fares Kapinga Head of Credit AMiF.
More than 300 Private Health Care Stakeholders (PHCS) in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Rukwa and Njombe have benefited with basic business and management skills training. AMiF plans to access providers of private health care services and ensure quality, access and affordable healthcare services across the country, focusing on lower end facilities especially those based in disadvantaged areas.