Most vulnerable children could now be assured of free treatment in public health facilities following the inauguration of the health fee exemption cards here last week by President Jakaya Kikwete.
Free treatment is one of the components of Pamoja Tuwalee Programme which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and implemented through World Education/Bantwana Inc., an international NGO, among other donors.
Launching the fee exemption card after opening the new Karatu District Council building, President Kikwete said although the government has been deeply concerned on the plights of the disadvantaged children, there had been no such mechanism to effectively tackle the problem.
He, therefore, called on district councils and other local authorities in the country to offer free medical care to the most vulnerable children, including orphans, whose number is on the rise. He praised Tuwalee Pamoja, a five-year most vulnerable children (MVC) programme which is being implemented in 16 districts in the four northern regions of Arusha, Manyara, Tanga and Kilimanjaro.
“We must be concerned with the welfare of our children. All district councils should ensure free medical treatment to orphans and other disadvantaged children,” President Kikwete said in response to pleas by children for the government to step in and rescue them from a host of problems.
According to Ms Grace Muro, an advocacy officer with World Education/Bantwana Inc, whose country office in Tanzania is in Arusha, the programme targets to reach 29 villages in the four regions by next year.
“Free medical treatment in public hospitals and free education in public schools,” she said, adding that in Karatu District alone the programme has 7,084 children on its focus, half of them girls.
The official said although the focus of the programme is on a wider group of disadvantaged children, they were directing their efforts on orphans, abandoned children, those who fend for themselves, the sick and those lacking basic needs; food, medical care, clothes, education and shelter.
The World Education/Bantwana deputy chief party, Dr John Hillary, said although they welcomed the President’s directive on how to address the plight of the most vulnerable children, they were waiting to see how they were going to implement that.