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Plan families to curb maternal deaths - Marie Stopes

17th February 2013
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Health sector performance is still lagging behind in reducing maternal deaths during childbirth, implying that there is little hope for the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on the sector in the next two years.

The slow progress in reducing maternal mortality means that Tanzania is off track in achieving the Millennium Development Goal number 5 of “improving maternal health” by year 2015.

A report on an analysis of family planning funding resources at district level released in Dar es Salaam by Marie Stopes Tanzania yesterday shows that while under the millennium goals programme the country plans to reach 60 percent on reducing maternal mortality rate, recent figures show the current achievement level stands at 27percent.

The situation was revealed by the Marie Stopes head of communication, John Bosco Baso when briefing reporters on the report.

Baso said that a breadth of the women population has little awareness of family planning issues especially in rural areas and that is why many deaths occur at delivery time. Increasing access to family planning and reducing maternal deaths requires a harmonisation of resources between central and local governments, he asserted.

A 2010 report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) showed that estimated maternal mortality rate in 2010 stood at 454 out of 100,000 live births, representing an improvement from 578 deaths in 2005 and 529 in 1999.

The report says that even with this turnaround the challenges of reducing maternal mortality to targeted levels under MDGs are enormous.

Baso says that despite minimal achievement registered, reproductive and child health (RCH) had been identified as a key priority by President Jakaya Kikwete and a number of special initiatives had been launched to address it.

Recently, the director of projects in Marie Stopes Tanzania, Heidi Brown said family planning budgets allocated to districts were neither sufficient nor stable.

She said that the organization conducted a survey in eight districts in various regions countrywide and found that the budget allocated for family planning was low and depended mostly on donors.

About 75 percent of such allocation comes from donors, 25 percent from the central government and nothing, generally, from district’s own resources.

Districts involved in the survey were Ilemela and Magu in Mwanza Region; Mtwara Rural and Masasi in Mtwara Region, Mkuranga in Coast, Chamwino in Dodoma, Lindi Rural in Lindi and Kyela in Mbeya Region.

About Sh140 billion is needed to meet the government’s target of 60 per cent of women in child bearing ages using family planning by 2015 and realize the President’s international commitment of doubling resources to that effect. Frequent delays in disbursements from donors was identified as a problem,, while funds allocated to districts often were not fully disbursed, the survey indicated.

Leaders and decision makers at various levels need to ensure that family planning budgets are sufficient and stable at all times, the NGO activist underlined.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY