Health Worker Spotlight: Edson Timothy Mwakanyamale, Busokelo District, Tanzania

CHFuA Chairperson, Mr. Edson T Mwakanyamale explaining his job in his office.
CHFuA leaders, volunteer and HIMSO staff at their office in Lwanga Busekelo
CHFuA leaders, volunteer and HIMSO staff at their office in Lwanga Busekelo.

Edson Timothy Mwakanyamale was active in volunteer and administrative economic activities for many years in the Busokelo district before the village elected him to serve as chairperson of the Community Health Fund Users Association (CHFuA) six months ago. The CHFuA is a voluntary insurance program that compliments government health financing efforts. Edson has seen the benefits of CHFuA in the Busokelo district. “I am proud of community members’ response to joining the Community Health Fund and Emergency Transport System (ETS) in addressing health challenges in the district,” he said. “CHF ensures affordable access to health services and ETS guarantees the patient referral upon emergence from the village to health facilities at village, district, and regional levels.”

The Busokelo District includes 13 wards and 56 villages. As the CHF chairperson, Edson works in Lwangwa, near the district headquarters. The lack of tarmac roads and too few district council ambulances make it difficult for responders to reach villagers in remote areas and in some cases this lack of access means villagers incur higher health care costs. In addition to mountainous terrain, Busokelo district experiences heavy rainfall for nine-month periods. Edson says that enhancing the ETS to address the transport challenges is the focus of the Health & Insurance Management Service Organization (HIMSO) collaboration with the district council, private companies, community members, financial institutions, and private transporters. “So far they have shown [a] willingness and commitment to support us,” Edson said.

The impact of the CHFuA and ETS partnership has transformed Edson’s view of community services provisions. “Before, it was real hard to help a pregnant mother at an emergency related to delivery. Most of them gave birth without medical attention in their localities and on transit to nearby health facilities. As a result, sadly, some lost their lives,” Edson said. “But today with ETS, it is just a matter of a mobile phone call before one is immediately evacuated to a health facility for medical care.” Women and neonatal clients receive ETS services for free, which enhances health services in the district and region at large.

HIMSO was the catalyst that led the Busokelo district to comprehensively address health care challenges with better training and more equitable and affordable health care access. Edson has learned valuable lessons in his work with CHFuA. “I have learned that community challenges can be addressed through dedicated leadership, volunteerism, and unity and solidarity among stakeholders with gender equity,” he said. “Women can be involved and become a powerful force towards addressing community challenges.”