Muhimbili contracts out food supply

MUHIMBILI National Hospital (MNH) has contracted a food supplier to provide meals to in-patients from upcountry regions as a trial while it is working to introduce the service to all patients admitted to the national facility.

The hospital had earlier announced to commence the service in July, this year, but the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, suspended the plan so that more consultation could be made.

MNH Head of Communications, Aminiel Aligaesha, told the 'Sunday News' in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the hospital has contracted the food supplier on trial since October to serve between 600 and 700 in-patients from upcountry regions as it works on modalities of providing meals to all in-patients.

“The hospital capacity is 1,500 in-patients of which between 600 and 700 are from upcountry, who are being served through the food supplier free of charge, since the majority can’t afford the meals’ cost,” he said.

Mr Aligaesha said that before engaging the food supplier, the hospital was responsible for preparing and distributing food to all in-patients particularly those from upcountry regions. "The hospital had to prepare the food using its own chefs, but now the service will be provided by a food supplier and the hospital will only be responsible for control," he said.

He said the move will also enable the national facility to concentrate on its core functions of treatment, consultation and diagnosis. Mr Aligaesha further explained that the contracted food supplier commenced the service since October, this year and will provide the service for six months.

"The service is currently on trial for a period of six months and thereafter it will come up with best way of extending the service to all in-patients and address the emerging challenges,” he said.

Mr Aligaesha said: "We will conduct an assessment after six months and we believe that we will have enough experience on the service,” Mr Aligaesha said.

He, however, noted that there was a group of patients from Dar es Salaam who have requested to be provided with meals at the hospital to avoid the inconveniences encountered by their relatives when they take food to them.

Mr Aligaesha said the patients are paying for the service noting that the hospital has been providing meals free of charge to patients who cannot afford the service. He said the decision by the hospital management to contract food supplier has enabled the facility to focus on improvement of its services and control of expenditure.

"The hospital has now handed everything to the food supplier and this has helped it to avoid inconveniences it has been encountering especially on storing food and other charges for power and water," he said. He said the staff who were working in the hospital's kitchen have been assigned to other departments to assist patients such as escorting them to the laboratory for diagnosis.

"This service is the continuation of the hospital's efforts to ensure that it focuses on its core functions by handing over other responsibilities which have no direct link to treatment to bidders such as environmental cleanliness," he said.

In June, this year, MNH announced its plan to start providing meal service to all patients admitted to the hospital on July 1. Under the new system, each admitted patient was required to contribute 50,000/- whereby 10,000/- would be for consultation fee, Sh 10,000 for admission fee and 30,000/- for food.

According to the hospital, each patient could be required to pay 6,000/- a day for those who will be admitted for five days. But the minister later suspended the plan so that more consultation could be made.

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