Through the More and Better Midwives for Rural Tanzania (MBM) project which was implemented by Jhpiego, the number of girls participating in learning science subjects in secondary schools in eight regions of Mwanza, Kagera, Mara, Simiyu, Shinyanga, Kigoma, Tabora, and Geita has increased tremendously.
Through the just-ended five years project, secondary schools in the respective regions were assisted to introduce science clubs whereas science teachers were also capacitated. The clubs were meant to improve students' interest in science subjects.
The project trained 96 secondary school science teachers with a focus on nursing and midwifery career choice in order to sensitize girls to undertake science subjects as a prerequisite for a nursing course.
To attain its goal which includes ensuring that women and children in rural and hard to reach areas of Tanzania have access to skilled midwives, the project gave scholarship to 112 nursing and midwifery students.
A total of 28,338 secondary school students have been reached by the project through its outreach activities.
Sarah Shaban, a Form Three student at Capri - Point secondary school in Mwanza acknowledge the MBM project insisting that it is through the established clubs, she was inspired to learn science subjects.
“Our club has a total of 15 students, among them, 9 are men and 6 boys. I would wish to become a pharmacist in future,” said Sarah calling upon fellow secondary school students to go for science subjects since their not harder as some people think.
Jesca Bavuna is a future nurse midwife from Capri - Point secondary school, she said: “When officials from the MBM project came to introduce the science club at our school, there were very few girls learning the subjects, but the number has now gone up.”
Jesca added that through the MBM project that she has been able to develop interest in science subjects as well as a desire to become a nurse with specialization in dealing with pregnant mothers and ensure their safety during childbirth.
“I was previously considering science subjects as the most difficult; through the project I was encourage to pursue them and I am now confident of passing the subjects in my national Form Four examinations next year,” said the Form Three student.
Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50 percent of the global health workforce. Africa and South East Asia are said to have the largest needs of nurses and midwives.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the world will need an additional 9 million nurses and midwives by the year 2030 to be able to attain the Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and well-being.
Speaking during an event to mark the end of the project, Director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi commended the stakeholders’ contribution in reducing child and maternal mortality in the country.
The number of maternal deaths has now dropped to 2,000 per year compared to 11,000 in 2015.
MBM Project Manager, Dr Julius Masanika said the project has managed to reduce the nurse midwives staffing gap in Lake and western zones from 54 percent in 2016 to 41 percent.
The project was funded by the government of Canada through the Global Affairs Canada to a tune of 10 million Canadian Dollars (over 16bn/-).
It was implemented by Jhpiego in partnership with Amref health Africa, Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM) and Tanzania Midwives Association (TAMA). It covered 20 health training institutions and 19 in-service training clinical practice sites in 19 districts within targeted eight regions.