AfricaPress-Tanzania: NMB Bank Plc has partnered with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to expand interestfree health insurance cover to farmers, a large group that remains underserved in health protection.
Official statistics show that only 9,800 farmers have access to the health insurance services provided by NHIF, in the country, where, over 70 per cent of the population engage in agriculture.
The Bank Chief Retail Banking Mr Filbert Mponzi said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the initiative has come at the right time providing not only easy access to affordable health services but also supporting government efforts to boost health insurance coverage in the country.
The three-year deal inked through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between NMB and NHIF, would witness more than 300,000 farmers with their families who are members of cooperative unions, having easy access to health insurance cover.
“With the initiative, the NMB will lend and pay the insurance cover for farmers who would pay back later after harvest,” he noted.
To start with, the NMB will start providing health covers to farmers who are members of Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (AMCOS) called ‘Ushirika Afya’.
Mr Mponzi said farmers, who would become the first beneficiaries of the initiative, were those growing crops like maize, sisal, cotton, tea, cashew nut and tobacco through their cooperative unions.
“In partnership with AMCOS, we will identify farmers who need health insurance services. This will help speed up the exercise of providing health insurance cover to more farmers in a short time,” he noted.
He said farmers would have to pay 76,800/- for an adult and 50,400/- for a child annually. A married couple and two children are required to pay 254,000/- annually and a married couple with four children need to pay 355,200/- a year.
The NHIF Director- General Mr Bernard Kongwa stated that the UshirikaAfya initiative started in 2018, aiming at providing easy access to health insurance services to farmers.
“This initiative launched today is supporting government efforts and directives to ensure that farmers get easy access to affordable health insurance services,” explained Mr Kongwa.
He said the beneficiaries would access all medical services, starting from dispensaries to referral hospitals, across the country.
“We continue to address challenges and, under this partnership, to reach more farmers. We are grateful to join hands with NMB on this initiative and this is a big boost in dealing with challenges our farmers face.
This agreement is a continuation of our partnerships with NMB and we’re working together on this as part of implementing the government’s directive on universal health coverage,” Mr Kongwa stated.
The acting Registrar of Cooperatives Mr Collins Nyakunga said the move has come timely, urging NMB to continue reducing the costs of insurance services to reach more lowincome families.
“This is a good start in extending health insurance services to more farmers as there are 9000 cooperative unions with 6 million members,” he added.
NMB Bank’s Head for Agribusiness Retail Banking, Mr Isaac Masusu, added that the groundwork for serving the farmers was complete and they would start with 115 cooperative unions in different parts of the country.