European missionaries established the first Western-style health care system in Tanzania in the 19th century. Between 1967 and 1980 private medical practice was nationalized. However, in recent years, private practices have emerged once again. In 1985, user fees were introduced in government hospitals. Although the health care system uses both preventive and curative approaches, lack of resources limits the effectiveness of many measures..
The Tanzanian health care system has six kinds of health facilities. Village health posts are the most basic facilities. Slightly better care comes from dispensaries and local health centres. The next level of care is district hospitals, followed by regional hospitals and, finally, referral hospitals. Referral hospitals provide the best medical care. However, there are only four referral hospitals for a population of more than 30 million.

 Since hospitals and clinics are often concentrated in the urban areas, many rural people have difficulty obtaining health care. In some isolated areas, health workers are specially trained to diagnose and treat common diseases. This helps to overcome the shortage of doctors. Medicine is usually very expensive. People who stay in hospitals are often visited by relatives who bring them food.

  Did you know?
The Nyamwezi believe that annoying one's ancestors or arguing with one's family can lead to illness. They ask a diviner to tell them what they must do to restore harmony.
Harsh economic conditions have made it difficult for the government to provide better health care. Hospitals cannot afford equipment and medicine. Inflation has drastically reduced the incomes of people in both urban and rural areas. As a result, they cannot afford the kinds of food they need to stay healthy. 

Many Tanzanian children die before the age of five and many mothers die in childbirth. Malaria, a serious disease carried by mosquitoes, is widespread. Sleeping sickness, which is spread by the tsetse fly, is common in wooded areas. Diseases such as measles, dysentery, cholera and tuberculosis are common in Tanzania due to malnutrition, inadequate immunization, lack of essential drugs and contaminated water supplies. There is also great concern about the spread of AIDS.

Both traditional and Western medical practices are used in Tanzania. Traditional healers are often consulted in cases of sickness, especially in rural areas. In the eastern region, traditional healers are called waganga. They recommend medicines made from materials that villagers can obtain easily, such as tree bark, roots and leaves. On the island of Mafia, some illnesses are thought to be caused by sea spirits. People believe that these illnesses can be cured by offering food and sacrificing a goat to the spirits.
  Did you know?
The University of Dar es Salaam has established an institute to carry out research on traditional medical practices.