First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete has called upon the government to increase the health sector budget from 11 per cent to 15 per cent to reduce the maternal mortality and reach the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG4).
Speaking at the White Ribbon Day celebration in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Mama Salma Kikwete said there was a need to increase the budget of the health sector and reduce the maternal mortality during and after delivery and protect the newly born babies.
“A research carried out in 2010 shows the number of maternal deaths has dropped from 8,000 in a year to 7,000 compared to 2004/05,” she said.
Mama Kikwete noted also that the deaths of newly born babies less than one year old had decreased from 51,000 deaths to 41,000 in a year. “Although the number of child mortality of the less than year old babies has decreased, it is still big and we have to reduce it by any means,” she noted.
The First Lady said the number of women delivering at health centres had increased from 47 per cent to 51 per cent and the percentage of women using family planning methods had also increased from 20 per cent to 27 per cent.
“These statistics show a reduction trend in the number of maternal deaths and we have to ensure the maternal mortality goes further down in the future to be able to achieve the MDG4,” she said.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Warfare Regina Mkuli, who represented her minister Dr Haji Mponda, said the government continued constructing more health centres in each village all over the country.
“The government is still building more health centres in each village and allocating health professionals to provide quality health services to people,” she said.
United Nations (UN) representative Pirkko Heinonen said a shortage of health workers especially nurses and midwives was more pronounced in rural areas, where the majority of people lived. “According to the Human Resources for Health Strategic Plan (HRHSP) of 2008-2013, Tanzania’s health facilities require about 130,000 health workers but the actual number is just 35,000,” Heinonen said.
The UN representative also said maternal, newborn and child mortality reduction was the UN development system’s priority. “The UN continues providing technical and financial support to the government of Tanzania in strengthening the health system and supporting evidence based intervention for improving maternal, newborns and child health as stipulated in the National Road Map Strategic Plan to accelerate reduction of maternal mortality,” Heinonen said.
He pointed out that under collective support to maternal and newborn mortality reduction, the UN brought together a mixture of expertise and resources in advocacy and policy dialogue, support to health systems development and management and also in primary health care to effectively achieve reproductive, maternal and newborn health.