The plight of expectant mothers, who’s to blame

20Apr 2016
The Guardian
The plight of expectant mothers, who’s to blame

Tanzania suffers a maternal mortality rate of 454 for every 100,000 live births, a horrific average of 22 women dying in the delivery room every day. That is a shocking one death every hour!

What is even more disturbing is the fact that they die from conditions that could be prevented or treated.

Tanzania ranks near the very bottom of the Annual State of the World’s Mothers report that highlights the challenges facing mothers and newborns worldwide. The country is number 135 out of 176 countries around the globe.

Causes of these high maternal deaths in Tanzania include excessive bleeding, unsafe abortions, eclampsia, obstructed labour and infections all of which are preventable and treatable. Now for example, a simple urine test to check protein levels will reveal any threat of pre-eclampsia long before the severe stage of full blown eclampsia kicks in thereby allowing doctors to take action and save her life.

So why are these tests not being done? A major reason for this falls on the hands of the mother and her caretakers because it is reported that many expectant women do not go to the clinic for regular checkups.

With that said, we must take into account other factors like poor infrastructure and distance of clinics from most rural areas. These factors influence a woman’s ability to attend clinic.

Other reasons that risk an expectant woman’s life in Tanzania include, low availability of emergency obstetric and new born care services, chronic shortage of skilled health providers worsened by a weak referral system.

Because this second set of reasons behind Tanzania’s high maternal rate bares economic and political aspects it is more daunting to handle. The lack of hospitals coupled with poor communication and transport infrastructure as well as dire shortage of trained personnel all have to do with a country’s political will to devote the budgetary needs to this end.

A prominent foreign politician once said "...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB)’s 2011 ‘World’s Women and Girls’ data sheet, the lifetime chance of dying from maternal causes in Tanzania is one in 23. That is, one out of every 234 women in Tanzania will die when giving birth.
These figures are just too high and leave much to be decided about the care we are directing towards expectant women. The data shows, whether we like to admit it or not, that we don’t extended a lot of concern for our future mothers.

So whose obligation is it to ensure that expectant mothers and newborns alike get the medical treatment they need? I reiterate the politicians comment; the moral test of government is how that government treats children, elderly, the sick and the needy. Since we elect government, then this blame falls on our hands.